Tag Archives: seawolf hockey

What goes on on high at the University of Alaska

Two and a half pages of a 49-page report about the 2011 assault of a UAA hockey player by the coach was released to the Anchorage Daily News on Wednesday. Although many in UAA’s administration knew about the assault –including UAA Chancellor Tom Case, and Vice Chancellor Bill Spindle –the investigation was only conducted after it was reported in the ADN and the community began to demand action.

While it’s hard to take too much from what was released, a few things are worth highlighting:

  • The report said that the coach Dave Shyiak “possibly” committed a misdemeanor assault but that charges will not be forwarded because it would be against the wishes of the victim.
  • Following the assault, the athletic department made a “very sparsely conducted” inquiry into the incident.
  • The investigator chalked the lack of inquiry up to the “lack of a Standard Operating Procedure.”
  • UAA, however, seems to dispute that. Kristin DeSmith, a UAA spokeswoman, said that anyone with a significant responsibility for student and campus activities is a “campus security authority” and is required by federal law to report a potential crime.

In other words, those who knew about it and didn’t report it might have violated federal law. That would include Case, Spindle and recently fired Athletic Director Steve Cobb.

Further, what’s been released so far appears to directly contradict the statement released by Case following Cobb’s firing. In that statement, Case said that he had spoken to the investigator, and was assured that the investigation “found no basis for recommending criminal charges against Coach Shyiak or anyone else.” And that Cobb “did in fact conduct a good faith review of the allegations at the time.”

Case also called the allegation “overstated.” (It should be noted that Cobb wasn’t fired because of the assault on his watch. He was fired, according to Case, because he had become a “distraction.”)

Either the investigator didn’t tell Case the truth about what he was finding, or Case lied to the public. In either case, someone should be held accountable.

But they likely won’t. It’s been 37 days since the assault was reported in the media, and not one member of university leadership, including any member of the Board of Regents, has yet to denounce the assault and ensure parents that their kid won’t get hit by a coach, a teacher, or secretary.

The University of Alaska’s motto is Ad Summum, meaning “To the Highest Point.”  Sounds good, until your look at what goes on on high.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Why is UAA letting hockey go up in smoke?

This is what I know about hockey: that there’s a puck and a net involved and that on the handful of games that I have attended, I can’t keep track of when the puck goes into the net. I know that the people at those games know more than I do, and I know that many of them are die hard, committed hockey fans.

I also know that in Alaska, there are many of those die hard, committed hockey fans and I’m told that there used to be a lot more of them, particularly at UAA Seawolf games.

The seats used to be filled I’m told. Now, when you go to the Sullivan Arena to watch a Seawolf game, only about a third of the seats are filled. I’m here to tell you that it’s kind of a drag to be at a game that you don’t know much about without being surrounded by a crowd that does and can signal when to cheer, when to hiss and when to tell the ref that he sucks.

Unless things change and the crowds get bigger, I won’t go back.

Many, including the person with whom I am currently involved, are blaming the athletic director Steve Cobb for the Seawolf’s continuing decline on the ice and the subsequent lack of enthusiasm in that arena. Many are calling on UAA Chancellor Tom Case to fire Cobb.

Recently, long pent-up frustration among former and would-be Seawolf fans found a vent in the search for a new hockey coach. (Read more about that here and here). I may not know where the puck is, but I do know steam when I see it, and this was a gusher.

It was enough of a gusher that the Alaska State Hockey Association recently issued a vote of no confidence in Cobb. The following Sunday, the UAA Hockey Alumni Association issued their own resolution. About 40 men sat in a small room in an ice rink in South Anchorage on Sunday, working on the resolution. Many of them are fathers with busy lives. Many had never written or even spoke the word, “whereas.” Many of them spent the better part of their 20s bleeding for the Seawolves, and none of them took that resolution lightly.

They thought they could change things.

They were apparently under the assumption that an institution for which they fundraised and were a part of, an institution paid for out of their state funds, cared about them and their passions.

They thought they mattered.

The responses that they and others have received from the university make it very clear that they don’t.

I don’t know if Cobb should be fired, but I do know a few things about communication and I know in a been-there-done-that-way how to alienate a whole group of people. The university has been successful, at least at that.

I know that UAA’s response to the situation has been a PR failure, from one liners responding to heartfelt letters, to an arrogant “no comment” from Cobb in the Anchorage Daily News about the alumni resolution, to the very anemic and very late invitation the university sent out to a select few in the hockey community asking them to be involved in the search for the new hockey coach. (Say nothing about the silence surrounding the allegation of an assault and the cover up of the assault involving the former hockey coach and a student player. It’s the best known secret in the hockey community.  Case, here’s a head’s up: it will come out eventually and it won’t be pretty.)

And then on Friday was Case’s incomprehensible and inadequate defense of Cobb’s job as athletic director in the ADN.

Bradford Keithley writes better than I ever could here about the possible financial implications of UAA’s disastrous response, implications that might have real impact.

Legislators are talking. Headlines are screaming. Talk shows are buzzing. And now, normal, average people, people like me who don’t know a thing about hockey, are wondering how the university can continue to go to the people with hands and fingers out while being so insensitive and non-responsive to the people.

The university is, after all, a very well funded state school. And if there is anything to the owner state philosophy—and I believe there is—Alaskans own the university as much as the oil.

The 40 some guys who sat in that room on a Sunday trying to make their voices heard should matter as much, if not more than one arrogant, chain smoking athletic director. They should even matter as much, if not more, than a chancellor who appears hell-bent on keeping him in cigarettes, while hockey goes up in smoke.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com