On the day of his 68th birthday, Boston University men’s hockey coach Jack Parker, flanked by university president Robert A. Brown and athletic director and assistant vice president Mike Lynch, announced his retirement at the end of the 2012-13 season.
His decision signals the end of an illustrious 40-year career in which he captured 894 wins – the most by a coach at a single school – and he ranks third all-time behind Boston College’s Jerry York and Ron Mason (Michigan State) in college hockey coaching victories.
Parker guided the Terriers to three national championships (the most recent a 4-3 overtime win against Miami (Oh.) in 2009), seven Hockey East titles and a record 21 Beanpot Tournament championships.
In the Francis D. Burke Club Room at Agganis Arena, Parker answered the most sought question: Why now?
“I’ve been a coach here for 44 years and a player, so for 48 out of the last 49 years, I’ve been reporting for duty for BU hockey,’’ Parker said. “That’s enough – it’s a tough job. It takes a lot out of you.
“I didn’t want to do it earlier on in the season and go through a farewell tour of all the other rinks in the league – that’s not me and I didn’t want that to happen. I also didn’t want to wait until the end of the year and tell [the team] when all the games are over, ‘That would be the last time I coached you.’
“I always talked about BU being a family. I wanted to have the team know we’ll go through this together and this would be my last experience.’’
The Terriers, who finished this season 18-15-2, enter the Hockey East tournament as the No. 3 seed. They will face No. 6 Merrimack Friday at Agganis Arena at 7.
“I’ve had a wonderful ride here,’’ Parker said. “I’d like to thank everybody involved with my career here. It won’t hit me because we have games to play and practice tomorrow. It probably won’t hit me until next October.’’
Brown said that Parker will remain with the school in a fundraising capacity in an effort to make athletics an integral part of the school’s fundraising campaign.
“Jack’s connection with alumni and friends will be invaluable,’’ Brown said. “Jack has had an outstanding career at BU. He’s been a mentor and coach to so many great young men throughout the years – that will be a very important part of his legacy.’’
Lynch added that the search for a new coach will commence soon.
“In weeks ahead, we’ll be assessing the interest of many potential candidates,’’ Lynch said. “It’s a marquee job – it’s the best job in college hockey particularly because of [Parker]. It hasn’t been open in a long time. It will be an enormously important position, and it will be handled at the highest level of the University.’’
As for what Parker hopes to see in his successor?
“Somebody who is sincere and cares about the players,’’ Parker said.
Last year, the program came under scrutiny when two players were accused of sexual assault in separate incidents that occurred fewer than three months apart. The school formed a task force and commissioned a report to look into the hockey program. The conclusions of the report were that the players were given star treatment and that there was “a culture of sexual entitlement.’’
The school revoked Parker’s title as executive athletic director but didn’t conclude the coach knew of anything inappropriate going on with his players.
Material from an earlier report by Nancy Marrapese-Burrell was included in this story.