This week in Duke history: Duke swimming coach resigns after falsifying times, teaching paper class

Falsifying achievement in the sport. Allegations of a paper class for athletes. Sorry Duke fans, this is not referring to North Carolina, but to Blue Devil swimming in 1978.

On April 10, 1978, Duke head swimming coach Bill Barton resigned amid evidence that he had falsified the times of his swimmers to help send them to the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women swim meet, which Duke had hosted. Several members of the team spoke with The Chronicle in an April 13 article that year.

In response, many former swimmers and colleagues admitted that the practice was common around the sport, not limited to Duke, perhaps raising questions about the state of the sport at the time.

As for the paper class, Barton taught a full-credit class—Physical Education 191—open only to juniors and seniors that was considered an independent study class. The only requirement for the class, according to the article, was one paper, and a number of freshman and sophomore swimmers were admitted to the class.

Barton resigned three days prior to the article, finishing his time at Duke 18-17. Three years later, the program brought in its most renowned swimmer ever in three-time Olympic gold medalist Nancy Hogshead-Makar. Check back this summer for more on her.

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