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In his first public comments since a task force issued a report severely criticizing the culture of Boston University hockey, coach Jack Parker said changes in the program already have been implemented per the recommendations of the task force.
The scrutiny of the men’s team began when two players from the 2011-12 squad — Corey Trivino and Max Nicastro — were arrested for sexual assault in separate incidents. That led the school to formulate a task force, which found what it called “a culture of entitlement.”
Parker praised the work of the task force and said the program is moving forward.
“The court cases speak for themselves, I don’t want to rehash all that [from] last year,’’ said Parker, who was at TD Garden for Hockey East media day. “I enthusiastically endorsed the findings of the task force.”
The task force’s report called for a range of reforms to tighten oversight of the team, including educating players about sexual assault. Although the report was critical of Parker and the coaching staff, it did not recommend that any disciplinary action be taken against them.
“The stuff that is directed directly to the hockey team, we’re already initiating and moving forward with,” said Parker. “The stuff toward the student body, our kids will participate in, obviously, because they’re students. I think the entire student body as well as all the athletes will be better off because of this stuff.
“But I’m not looking back at that and saying, ‘OK, we’ve got to make sure that we do the next right thing this year.’ Like we always preach to them, ‘Do the next right thing every year.’ ”
Parker, 67, doesn’t feel he’s under any more pressure than he has been in the past.
“The only pressure on my job is to win the next hockey game and make sure we present ourselves properly both on the ice and off the ice, in the classroom and on the campus,’’ he said. “I’ve had that pressure since I took over the job.
“The other coaches in the league put more pressure on me than anybody else because there are so many good coaches and so many good teams.
“But in general, I don’t think there is any more pressure on me this year to win or there is more pressure on me to make sure we’re not in the newspaper anymore for things other than hockey. That’s part of the job every year and hopefully we’ll do a real good job of that this year.’’
The coach said student-athletes are held to a higher standard than other students because of their higher profile and it’s important for them to know that.
“I think the kids deal with this every day,’’ said Parker. “Not the BU situation, but every kid on every campus who is an athlete should have the idea that they’re looked at a little differently than the regular student on campus and they have more responsibility for that. Sometimes kids are great at that and some kids aren’t that good at it.
“We’re hoping that we will continue what we have done over 40 years and, for the most part, have kids that represent ourselves, our university, our coaching staff, and our team in the right way.’’
Parker said he’s excited about this year’s team and doesn’t want to dwell on the past.
“Things happen,’’ he said. “We are proud of our history and we’re proud of our legacy we’ve had at Boston University and hopefully we’ll continue that again this year.
“Given all the turmoil last year, I thought our team responded extremely well, winding up second in the league and in the national tournament. We lost some key guys in December and lost another key guy later on, and yet we responded extremely well given all the turmoil around the program.
“I was hoping that this would all be behind us, that this team wouldn’t face that type of turmoil. I thought it would all be done by this summer. I don’t think this team feels it has to worry about what people are thinking of them. They have to go out and be good students, good citizens, and good athletes and hopefully that is what they’ll continue to do.’’
Parker said he still enjoys coaching and is enthusiastic about working with a very young squad, which will have 10 freshmen, including two goaltenders who will battle it out for the top job — similar to when Kieran Millan and Grant Rollheiser started during the 2008-09 season when the Terriers went on to win the national championship. This time it will be 6-foot-5-inch Matt O’Connor and 6-2 Sean Maguire.
“We have two very talented freshmen coming in,’’ said Parker. “We think they’re going to be terrific at this level. We’ve proven you can win with freshmen in the past. Other schools have proven they can win with freshmen. Continued...