Stanford soccer goalie Katie Meyer was facing potential disciplinary action from the university before she took her own life — a factor that may have contributed to her tragic death, her shattered parents said Friday.
“Katie, being Katie, was defending a teammate on campus over an incident, and the repercussions of her defending that teammate [were possibly resulting in disciplinary action],” her father, Steve, told NBC’s “Today” show.
Meyer’s mother, Gina, wore one of Katie’s red sweaters during the emotional interview, saying it smelled like her and helped ease the searing pain of the loss of her daughter.
Meyer, 22, who was found dead in her dorm room Tuesday, was months away from graduation, but the looming possible ramification of discipline may have played a role in her death, her parents said.
Meyer’s parents believe she got an email from Stanford about the possible disciplinary action before she died.
“We have not seen that email yet,” Gina Meyer said. “She had been getting letters for a couple of months. This letter was kind of the final letter that there was going to be a trial or some kind of something. This is the only thing that we can come up with that triggered something.”
“She died by suicide,” the sobbing mom said. “The last couple days are like a parent’s worst nightmare, and you don’t wake up from it. So it’s just horrific.”
Meyer said her daughter was “excited” and had “a lot going on” in her life but didn’t show any warning signs that she was distraught.
Steve Meyer said his daughter previously defended a teammate on campus during an unspecified incident and the potential discipline she faced may have weighed heavily on her.
The couple also questioned whether the immense pressure of being a collegiate athlete was too much for Katie, the team’s captain who helped Stanford win the 2019 NCAA women’s soccer championship.
“There is anxiety and there is stress to be perfect, to be the best, to be No. 1,” Gina Meyer said.
The couple spoke to Katie just hours before she killed herself. A medical examiner found no indication of foul play.
“She was excited,” Gina said of the parents’ final FaceTime call with their daughter. “She had a lot on her plate. She had a lot going on. But she was happy. She was in great spirits.”
Gina Meyer said the couple are now desperately searching for answers.
“We’re just, we’re struggling right now,” she said. “We’re struggling to know what happened. And why it happened, you know? We’re just, like, heartbroken, we’re so heartbroken.”
Stanford University declined to comment on any possible discipline the star goalie may have faced, citing confidentiality on student matters.
“Our entire community is devastated by Katie’s death, and we share our deepest condolences with Katie’s family and everyone who knew her at Stanford, across the country and around the world,” university officials told “Today” in a statement. “Katie touched so many lives … We as a university community continue to grieve with Katie’s family and cherish our memories of her.”
Meyer, who majored in international relations, had noted the demands placed on college athletes in a “student spotlight” profile posted by Stanford in October.
“Balancing school and soccer has been challenging, but it’s all I’ve ever really known!” Meyer said. “Traveling during fall season can be stressful because I miss classes, but my professors have been so accommodating and understanding.”
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or are experiencing a mental health crisis and live in New York City, you can call 1-888-NYC-WELL for free and confidential crisis counseling. If you live outside the five boroughs, you can dial the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.