BU reeling from allegations of hockey team misconduct
Graphic content in report stuns trustees
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Boston University is reeling in the wake of allegations of misbehavior on the hockey team that until Friday were unknown to nearly everyone at the school, including most of its board of trustees.
The allegations surfaced in appendices to a public report on BU’s hockey culture, released by an internal task force Wednesday. The additional seamy details, describing rampant disrespect of women by some team members and a secret nude party at Agganis Arena in 2009, were not released to anyone beyond the task force members, a few administrators, and the board’s 16-member executive committee.
That left most of the 39 trustees unaware of the documents’ graphic contents — which raised serious questions about the actions of celebrated hockey coach Jack Parker — until details were reported in Friday’s Globe. Those trustees were also not consulted about how the school should reform its hockey culture; the task force’s 14 sweeping recommendations were devised with little input from the board.
Stephen Burgay, BU’s vice president for marketing and communications, said all trustees were told the detailed appendices existed but that they would not be released “because of our promises of confidentiality and the fact that the appendices are not entirely reliable sources of information.”
Yet the documents do not name the vast majority of the 34 students, staff, and faculty members who spoke to the task force, and many of the allegations were corroborated by multiple people with direct knowledge of the events.
For instance, several hockey players, students, and an athletics staffer consistently described the debauched victory party at an otherwise deserted Agganis Arena following the team’s 2009 national championship victory. Parker told the task force he did not know much about the party beyond the fact that there was some drinking in the locker room.
But two players and the athletics staffer said Parker found out about the party days after it occurred, reprimanded the team, and never informed administrators or campus police.
Parker was also sharply criticized in the report by students, faculty, and even several of his own players, who said that in the last year his disciplinary standards had grown lax.
He did not return Globe phone calls over the last three days.
On campus Friday, athletic staffers privately wondered whether the new revelations would lead to the ouster of Parker, 67, after nearly four decades as coach.
Parker is so key to the hockey program that the Agganis rink is named after him. He is second among active college coaches in wins, and his 876 victories are the most of any college hockey coach at the same institution.
The school has stripped Parker of one of his titles, executive athletic director, in hopes of shifting away some responsibility for overseeing team behavior while also ensuring better communication between Parker and top university administrators. But the task force did not recommend removing him as coach or docking his salary, and Burgay said the school did not plan to take either action.
Some BU students and alumni said Friday they felt it was time for Parker to go.
“Parker’s comments from the report and previous interviews clearly indicate he does not understand sexual assault and has no genuine intention of trying to stop it,” said Michelle Weiser, a recent BU graduate and feminist activist. “He’s setting a poor example for his team, and I don’t expect that to change as long as he is head coach.”
Others said Parker should not be fired.
“He can’t control what the players do when he’s not there,” said Lauren Mullins, a BU junior, adding that blame should not be placed entirely on players, either: “I think it’s out of control because the girls let it get out of control.”
A former BU player who went on to the NHL came to Parker’s defense. Although he did not play for Parker recently, he said, during his time at the school, he saw Parker “discipline the best players I played there with. . . . He held us accountable, I know that.”
Fellow former players had been sending him texts all day, he added: “Guys are upset and they feel bad for Jack because he’s been there for all of us.”
On message boards and Twitter, a raucous debate broke out among hockey fans.
“If anyone thinks what’s going on at BU is only going on at BU,” local sportswriter Mike McMahon wrote in a tweet, “they need to get out more.”
A recent Northeastern University graduate named Dave Luca put out his own flurry of scathing tweets on the opposite side. “There is something seriously wrong with the sports culture when people can defend BU because ’other teams do it too!’—wrong is wrong.”Continued...