TOKYO — U.S. beach volleyball player Taylor Crabb and his partner Jake Gibb are scheduled to play Italy’s Enrico Rossi and Adrian Carambula in an Olympic Games preliminary phase match on Sunday night at Shiokaze Park next to Tokyo Bay.
Crabb’s participation in the Tokyo Games, however, would not be possible had an arbitrator not reduced a 2019 USA Volleyball suspension of him through September 2021 for violating a previous ban for misconduct involving a minor age girl, according to USA Volleyball documents obtained by the Southern California News Group.
The previously unreported documents detail both Crabb’s initial suspension in 2017 and the USA Volleyball board of directors’ unanimous decision in May 2019 to extend the suspension through Sept. 28, 2021. The second decision came after he breached a settlement agreement for the first suspension by coaching at a camp for junior girls, a decision made with the clear realization that it would prevent Crabb from competing in the Tokyo Olympics, originally scheduled for 2020.
“USAV understands the proposed suspension will prohibit Mr. Crabb from participating in the 2020 Olympic Games,” Rachael Stafford, USA Volleyball’s in-house counsel wrote in a May 14, 2019 email to the board of directors. “Under the circumstances, USAV feels this is the only appropriate action.”
The documents also reveal USA Volleyball’s repeated concerns about protecting minor age girls from “misconduct” by Crabb, a former national collegiate player of the year at Long Beach State and two-time MVP on the AVP beach circuit.
“Specifically, it is this kind of activity that Mr. Crabb was prohibited from doing because USAV desired to protect its junior girl participants,” Stafford wrote to the board, referring to his appearance at the girls camp in May 2019.
Crabb, 29, was suspended by USA Volleyball, the sport’s national governing body, for two years for SafeSport violations on June 28, 2017, following an investigation by the organization prompted by inquiries by the law enforcement, according to USA Volleyball documents and a person familiar with the investigation.
As part of a September 2017 settlement agreement with USA Volleyball that reduced his suspension to four months, Crabb was banned for four years from participating or attending “any activities sanctioned by, or in connection with, USAV, and which also involve junior girls, included but not limited to chaperoning, coaching, viewing and volunteering.”
But USA Volleyball, on May 17, 2019, suspended Crabb’s membership and ability to participate in USA Volleyball events through Sept. 27, 2021 after the organization determined he breached the settlement agreement by coaching at a camp for junior girls in May 2019, according to a May 17, 2019 letter to Crabb from USA Volleyball CEO Jamie Davis.
The suspension would also prevent Crabb from participating in events sanctioned by FIVB, the sport’s international governing body, including Olympic qualifying events.
Crabb appealed the suspension and was granted a hearing before an arbitrator. The arbitrator ruled that USA Volleyball’s suspension of Crabb was an authorized and good faith effort to protect minor age girls from Crabb. But the arbitrator also reduced the suspension to a little more than a month – from May 17 to June 27, 2019 – to allow Crabb and Gibb to play in the FIVB Beach World Championships in Hamburg starting June 28.
The arbitrator, however, strengthened the terms of the settlement agreement, prohibiting Crabb from participating or attending any activities involving any females under the age of 18 and making him subject to a lifetime ban by USA Volleyball for future violations of the agreement even if the violations were unintentional or inadvertent.
Crabb did not respond to multiple requests for comment. His agent also did not respond to a request for comment.
USA Volleyball CEO Jamie Davis did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Crabb, a native of Honolulu now living in Hermosa Beach, comes from a family with long ties to the sport. His father Chris played professionally indoors. An uncle was an assistant coach for the 1984 Olympic gold medal-winning U.S. team. Lindsey Berg, a cousin, is a two-time Olympic silver medalist. Crabb’s brother Trevor was also a standout indoors at Long Beach State.
Taylor Crabb originally teamed up with his brother after deciding to focus on beach volleyball in 2015 before eventually teaming up with Gibb, a veteran of three previous Olympic Games.
Crabb is a four-time AVP Defender of the Year and he and Gibb were named the tour’s team of the year in 2018 and 2019.
USA Volleyball’s Torrance office was alerted by law enforcement about an alleged November 2015 incident involving Crabb and a minor age girl, according to a person familiar with the case. The girl and her family decided against testifying against Crabb, according to the person and documents.
But during a USA Volleyball investigation of an “incident” on “November 14-15, 2015” Crabb acknowledged drinking with a minor age girl and other misconduct, according to USA Volleyball documents.
Following the investigation, USA Volleyball “determined (Crabb’s) actions included a violation of the Code of Conduct, including conduct which was inappropriate as determined by comparison to normally accepted behavior; actions detrimental to USA Volleyball; and violation of USA Volleyball’s SafeSport Policy re: misconduct with a minor,” according to a June 28, 2017 letter to Crabb from USA Volleyball.
“USA Volleyball has zero tolerance for abuse and misconduct,” Jonathan Lee, chairman of USA Volleyball’s ethics and eligibility committee, wrote in the letter to Crabb.
The committee recommended Crabb be suspended for “no less than 2 years.”
After reaching a settlement agreement with USA Volleyball, Crabb was formally suspended from Sept. 27, 2017 to Jan. 27, 2018 for “possession, consumption or distribution of alcohol and/or tobacco if illegal or in violation of USA Volleyball or Regional Volleyball Association policy, and, conduct which is inappropriate as determined by comparison to normally accepted behavior.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Crabb was “ineligible to participate in or attend activities sanctioned by, or in connection with, USAV, and which also involve juniors girls, including but not limited to chaperoning, coaching, viewing and volunteering for a period of four years from the Effective Date.”
Crabb signed the agreement on Sept. 27, 2017.
USA Volleyball determined that Crabb violated the terms of the 2017 settlement agreement when he and Gibb attended a junior girls camp put on by C2 Attack VBC in Hendersonville, Tennessee in May 2019. C2 Attack is a USA Volleyball member girls club.
Crabb even posted about attending the camp on his Instagram page.
“Thank you so much to @C2attackvbc and @ntmcore for putting on this amazing clinic,” Crabb wrote on his page on May 13, 2019, next to a photo of him talking to a group of girls at the event. “@jakegibb and I had an amazing experience getting to help out. Every single player that attended was a joy to work with.”
USA Volleyball on May 14 recommended the board suspend Crabb until Sept. 25, 2021. The board unanimously voted to approve the suspension during a special meeting via conference call on May 16.
USA Volleyball also rejected a series of proposals by U.S. Olympic Committee ombudsman Kacie Wallace that would have dramatically reduced the length of Crabb’s suspension.
The arbitrator issued his decision on May 26 enabling Crabb to pursue qualifying for the Olympic Games.
Source: Orange County Register