As I was doing my daily reading during lunch, I cam across an article that posted today on The Athletic that I think would be very interesting for the DBTB community.
BLUF: "In responses to an anonymous survey of the University of Michigan men’s hockey program’s players and staff, coach Mel Pearson was accused of telling players to provide false information on COVID contact-tracing forms, of misleading recruits about how much scholarship money they would receive, and of allegedly calling one player a "Jew." Pearson also displayed an "inability or unwillingness" to hold the team’s director of hockey operations accountable for conduct that included the "mistreatment of female staff members," according to a separate investigative report."
Now I'm not a Michigan fan, but considering our/the #1 Pick from last year, and our #3 (#2?) Goalie prospect played during the time some of these events occurred is shocking. Sabres legend (and man of one of best hockey fights ever!) Steve Shields is also deeply entwined in this story as well (he was the separate investigative report). Although both investigations intertwine, it can be broken into 2 parts:
1) Shields accusing Pearson of retaliatorily firing him for reporting mistreatment of staff and players when Pearson didn't take care of it.
2) An anonymous survey by players and staff that brought up accusations of falsifying COVID forms, creating and allowing a fearful and toxic environment for players and staff to occur and grow, lying to recruits about scholarship amounts, and using an Anti-Semitic slur.
As damning as this all is on the coach, it reflects much more poorly on the Athletic Department and School Administrators. Multiple instances of Shields and staff members going to the AD and Admin with issues and concerns. Several investigations (one from Shields’ accusations, the other from the survey) pointing to a lot of things that just are not tolerated anymore (let alone that they should have previously) should have kicked the school and AD into a serious look at the common denominators. The part on Strauss Mann basically fearing how he would be retaliated against by the coach to the point he just signed overseas to play is pretty sad and frustrating, especially after Shields took the information to the administration.
Now, to their credit, the school did sanction and adhere to helping these investigations. However, other than the Director of Hockey Ops (the key individual in the mistreatment of female staff accusations) retiring in June, not much action seems to have occurred up onto this point. I’m not saying that there should be a witch hunt for Pearson, however, it seems the school probably needs to turn over the materials from the two investigations to the NCAA before they all (potentially) go down with the Coach Pearson ship. Anonymous surveys are often looked at with skepticism, either for not truly being anonymous (come on, you fill enough demographic and group questions for "research purposes only" is sketch as hell) or for the blatant lack of any action afterwards. Incidents like these truly hit home the fact they can be of some worth, can drive some positive change. For the kids and staff of the Wolverines Hockey Program, I can only hope that some positive change does come, and soon.