Tag Archives: tom case

UAA kind of sort of responds to Keithley’s charges of retribution

Last evening, I posted an article about Brad Keithley’s allegations against the UAA athletics program and UAA Chancellor Tom Case. Keithley claims that he is in the process of being barred from any association with UAA athletics. He says that it’s because he’s been critical of the athletic program, that he expressed concerns to Case about the hiring of a UAA women’s basketball coach who had a reputation in other schools and who resigned shortly after he was hired amid allegations of “professional misconduct.” He also wrote to the university about a student athlete who felt uncomfortable working with the basketball coach.

He also indicates that he might be being punished for a trip by the women’s basketball team that he paid for and which appears to be against NCAA rules.

The allegations are serious. I sent an email to the university about them. The questions and the response are below:

  • Why is the university considering barring Keithley from further association with its athletic program? Keithley says that it’s because he’s been critical of the program and has raised concerns with the treatment of a female student athlete. Is this true?

  • What action was taken when Keithley came to Chancellor Case expressing concern about a female student athlete’s concerns about working with women’s basketball coach Nate Altenhofen?

  • What, if any, action has the NCAA taken against the university regarding the 2011 trip Keithley paid for involving the UAA women’s basketball team?

  • The NCAA has indicated that the trip was against rules. Whose responsibility is it for ensuring that the university would follow such rules in this case?

  • In 2012, women’s basketball coach Nate Altenhofen resigned following accusations of “professional misconduct.” According to news accounts, he was being investigated for such allegations. What is the latest in that investigation? If complete, can you release the results? If not, can you tell me when it will be complete and what the public will know about the investigation? When he resigned, was he given any kind of severance package?

  • Does the university have an overall quote on Keithley’s accusations?

Here’s how the UAA chancellor’s office responded to the above questions:

UAA has been working with the NCAA since July 2012 on an investigation that looked into the women’s basketball program and the conduct of former head coach Tim Moser. It was not focused on UAA athletics generally, nor was it focused on Altenhofen. NCAA bylaws prohibit UAA from commenting further on an ongoing NCAA investigation.

Former coach Altenhofen resigned in the midst of an investigation into professional misconduct in August 2012. In accordance with Board of Regents policy, UAA will not comment further on personnel matters.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Allegations of cover-up and retribution involving UAA athletics

New allegations have surfaced about UAA’s athletic department which include accusations that the UAA chancellor’s office turned a blind eye to improper treatment of at least one female athlete. Brad Keithley, a lawyer and a possible candidate for governor, is making these allegations on his website. He is also charging that UAA is involved in retribution against him for, among other things, speaking about these issues. Keithley says he is in the process of being permanently barred from further association with its athletic programs

These are serious allegations, and I’ll try to get a response from the university on Tuesday.

Until recently, Keithley was a major donor and was highly involved in UAA’s athletic department.

In his blog, Keithley details how he had a meeting with UAA Chancellor Tom Case about the 2012 hiring of women’s basketball coach Nate Altenhofen and about his concerns with Altenhofen’s sketchy reputation, the lack of adequate community involvement in the hiring, and background checks. Three months later, Altenhofen resigned amid allegations of “professional misconduct.”

Keithley writes that he contacted Case again about a female student athlete who was uncomfortable with Altenhofen, and wanted to transfer, but was denied that transfer by UAA. Keithley, who was then working for a firm that had represented the university, was asked by the university to withdraw the letter because of potential conflicts of interest. The student never got her transfer and enrolled in is now at a community college, according to Keithley.

Most recently, Keithley says he is in the process of being permanently barred from further association with its athletic program for what he says is retribution for criticism of the program and for paying for the UAA women’s basketball team to travel from the University of Virginia to Washington D.C., where he hosted a tour of the Capitol followed by dinner for the team and coaches with the Alaska congressional delegation.

This is against NCAA rules, something that Keithley didn’t know at the time. Neither, apparently, did the university, which touted the trip and Keithley’s involvement with it on its website. He was given a special award following the trip for supporting UAA’s athletic department.

He was recently interviewed by the NCAA about the trip, which so far has not recommended sanctions against Keithley. However, Keithley says that he was not interviewed by UAA about the trip.

When he heard about being barred from the athletic program, Keithley sent an email that was distributed to the president of the University of Alaska, the chair of the Board of Regents and the UAA chancellor, questioning the university’s process and proposed actions, he writes. He has yet to get a response.

Keithley’s allegations fall on the heels of the firing of UAA Athletic Director Steve Cobb after an incident involving a coach slashing a hockey player with a stick began to make headlines and Gov. Sean Parnell expressed serious concerns about the public’s perceptions of the UAA athletic department.

Keithley writes:

To paraphrase an NCAA standard, UAA has become an institution out of control.  There appears to be no accountability remaining in the system for bad decisions or for arbitrary and biased procedures.  Put another way, when UAA screws up the first reaction appears not to be, how did that happen and how do we fix it, but instead, how do we silence or undermine those who call us out on it so that we don’t have to worry about that again.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Deafening sound of silence on and off UAA’s ice

I didn’t play sports in high school or college, and aside from catching an occasional Oakland Raiders football game with my father, I didn’t watch them either. But people who I know and respect who have played sports, particularly intercollegiate sports, say that they learned invaluable lessons about fair play, leadership, about healthy competition and teamwork.

Some of them have also talked about the darker side of sports, of hazing and bullying and breathtaking brutality. This kind of abuse happens all across the country (see the list compiled by ESPN). Recently a version of such bullying has made its way into the papers in Alaska.

Some of the incidents across the country seem harmless. But some of it is repulsive and has resulted in death or permanent mental and physical scarring.

Schools and other institutions are now taking the lead on the discussion. And as that discussion continues, the light, is increasingly shinning on the culture that in some cases ignores, and other cases encourages, such behavior. The spotlight is headed for the top, from whence that culture springs.

The recent firing of the Rutgers basketball coach Tim Rice and the school’s athletic director Tim Pernetti have opened up the discussion beyond athlete on athlete bullying. Now, questions are being asked about bullying and abusive coaches, insensitive athletic directors and about the greater institutions that sometimes foster, and sometimes ignore such behavior. Why, people are wondering, if we aren’t putting up with kids bullying kids, are we putting up with abusive coaches and the leadership that tolerates such deplorable behavior? Why, in the age when there’s a veritable cottage industry of anti-bullying programs across the country, have we tolerated such abuse? Would we tolerate such behavior in the classroom?

Institutions across the country are now beginning to say no.

Following the firing of Rutgers’ Rice, the men’s lacrosse coach Brian Brecht was fired for verbal abuse. Wisconsin-Green Bay opened an investigation of basketball coach Brian Wardle for verbally and emotionally abusing players. A high school basketball coach in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. was suspended last week verbally abusing players. Another high school coach was fired in Michigan for the same behavior. Longtime Eastern Connecticut State University baseball coach Bill Holowaty was suspended for throwing of a helmet in the bleachers during a game and for verbal abusive. He then retired.

In Alaska however, a hockey coach is allowed to slash a player with a stick, allegedly cover the incident up, and the university’s leadership only takes action, and tepid at that, after the community began to make noise.

Here’s what we know so far: On May 13, Anchorage Daily News sports reporter Doyle Woody broke the story that in 2011 then UAA hockey coach Dave Shyiak struck player Nick Haddad with a hockey stick during a drill.

That’s not disputed, and in fact was one of the most well known secrets in the hockey community and among some university officials, including UAA’s athletic director Steve Cobb.

What is in dispute, as if it even matters, is how hard the strike was. Shyiak has said that he only hit Haddad’s knee pads. Others present, including former UAA hockey player Mickey Spencer who has gone public, say that the hit was more like a “baseball-style” swing at Haddad’s thighs.

“He tomahawked, lumber-jacked-whatever you want to call it-him across the thigh on his (hockey) pants,” Spencer said. Shyiak then told the players to keep it between them, Spencer said.

Haddad confirmed the hit, but said that it has been overplayed. “There was an incident with Coach Shyiak and myself where he slashed me across the pants during practice,” Haddad wrote in a statement. “Obviously it is not acceptable for a coach to do this to one of his players, and there is no excuse for it to have happened. That being said, I don’t believe his intent was to injure me and I think he regretted his actions immediately.”

(It should be noted that some players hazed by the Rutgers coach also made excuses about their coach, excuses sound eerily similar to those you might hear at any given night at a women’s shelter.)

Shortly after the incident, Cobb ordered a half-hearted investigation into the matter, where nobody, including Shyiak, was interviewed, even though nearly the whole hockey team witnessed it.

Shyiak was fired two years later not because he hit a kid with a stick, but because he was a losing hockey coach.

And it all might have been ignored forever if it weren’t for a group of dedicated hockey fans who never liked Cobb and took umbrage with him over his search for a new hockey coach. They, including someone with whom I’m in a relationship, began writing letters to university officials questioning athletic director Cobb’s overall performance. Some of those letters alluded to the assault.

But the university only began paying attention after the assault made its way into the newspaper.

Let’s be clear here: A hockey player was physically assaulted. University of Alaska President Pat Gamble and UAA Chancellor Tom Case knew about the allegations. But it took a newspaper article to spurn them into action.

UAF police are now investigating. Gamble and Case have clammed up presumably pending results of that investigation.

Unlike other school officials across the country, they haven’t made statements about not tolerating such behavior. They haven’t talked about how such repulsive behavior undermines the very values that forms their institutions. They are willing to sit silent until the investigation runs its course, which could take months. And they are willing to allow the athletic director, who was Shyiak’s boss and who is therefore ultimately responsible, continue to collect his hefty state salary.

When Gov. Chris Christie heard of the situation at Rutgers, he called the coach an “animal” and said that had he known about Rice’s behavior earlier, he would have used his power of persuasion to ensure that the coach and the athletic director were fired. There’s a reason why nobody in the country would ever call Christie “Captain Zero.”

Gov. Sean Parnell, the state’s moral arbiter, has spent a lot of time and public dollars urging Alaskans to choose respect. “We can stop the epidemic of domestic violence and sexual assault by shedding silence and passivity,” Parnell once said in a speech. “We can speak up and proclaim these acts to be unacceptable. Together, we can begin the change towards greater respect for one another.”

Parnell knows about the assault. So far he has chosen to choose silence.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com