An elite gymnastics coach from Monmouth County has been suspended by USA Gymnastics for eight years.
USA Gymnastics confirmed that Maggie Haney, co-owner and coach of MG Elite, has been banned effective immediately after a hearing panel found that she had emotionally and verbally abused gymnasts. She can apply for reinstatement at the end of her suspension. If she's reinstated, she will be placed on two years probation.
Haney is not allowed to attend any USA Gymnastics events during the suspension, with the exception of taking her daughter to events, and can't contact any of the plaintiffs in her case.
The original report alleged Haney, 42, bullied gymnasts and forced others to compete or train while injured. Parents of MG Elite gymnasts alleged that athletes, some as young as 10, were yelled at for making mistakes, kicked out of practice and fat-shamed.
"USA Gymnastics can confirm that the Safe Sport Hearing related to Maggie Haney has concluded. The independent hearing panel – comprised of three members of the gymnastics community, including an attorney, a club owner, and a former national team athlete – found that Ms. Haney violated the USA Gymnastics Code of Ethical Conduct, Safe Sport Policy, and other policies," a USA Gymnastics statement read. "As a result, the hearing panel determined that Ms. Haney is suspended from membership, and any coaching of USA Gymnastics athletes or in member clubs, for a period of eight years, effective immediately, followed by a two year probationary period. After the suspension concludes, Ms. Haney may reapply for membership after submitting proof of completing certain specified Safe Sport courses."
Haney has not responded to a request for comment from the Asbury Park Press.
Russell Prince, an attorney for Haney, told the Orange County Register that Haney is expected to appeal the decision.
"The ruling is regrettable but in no way surprising considering the heavy handed nature of the investigative and hearing process," Prince said. "There is no fundamental fairness to the manner in which these manners are resolved."
Haney, a Freehold resident, has been a gymnastics coach in New Jersey since 2000 and has operated her MG Elite team out of Monmouth Gymnastics in Marlboro since 2007. She has coached some of the best gymnasts in the world, including Old Bridge native and Olympic gold medalist Laurie Hernandez and world champion and former Brielle resident Riley McCusker.
Hearings began Feb. 3. Hernandez testified against Haney while McCusker submitted a written complaint to the panel, according to the Orange County Register. Haney had been suspended by USA Gymnastics since that day, pending the outcome of the hearing. The USA Gymnastics website said that Haney was prohibited from all contact with minors while her case was pending.
Through a representative, Hernandez declined to comment.
USA Gymnastics also suspended Victoria Levine, a coach and the co-owner of MG Elite, last month on an interim basis after emotional and verbal abuse allegations were made against her. That case is pending.
The investigation was made public last August while USA Gymnastics was reportedly made aware of some allegations against Haney, including Hernandez's complaint, as early as 2016.
McCusker is training with Brian Carey at Arizona Sunrays in Phoenix and has done so since Haney’s original suspension in February. After taking more than a year off from gymnastics after the 2016 Summer Olympics, Hernandez returned to the sport in 2018 and currently trains at Gym-Max in California. Both are candidates to represent the United States at the next Summer Olympics, which is postponed until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Danny LoGiudice has covered local sports across New Jersey since 2014. Contact him at email@example.com or @danny_logiudice on Twitter.