Denver Administration Still Has Questions to Answer
by Damien Goddard/Special to CHN
University of Denver Athletic Director Peg Bradley-Doppes will not be speaking to the media today or any day in the foreseeable future about the firing of head hockey coach George Gwozdecky. In some quarters that may be seen as a sign of weakness on the part of the Athletic Department and the university.
The media coverage of the firing has been overwhelmingly negative and facing a hostile press corps would delve into questions the university is seemingly unwilling to answer.
There's also a possibility that DU is afraid of potential litigation and anything said publicly or privately could be brought up later. Did the university follow all of its internal protocols when firing a university employee? Did the university's Board of Trustees follow their own by-laws when agreeing to buy out the contract? Did the Board's Athletic Affairs Committee act within their own purview when making this decision? Were any federal or state laws violated when buying out the Gwozdecky contract?
The first rumbles of discontent with Gwozdecky were detected in mid-March. The wheels may have been in motion long before, but by mid-March DU was seriously looking at alternatives. Several high level donors where reportedly dissatisfied with the coach.
It's been suggested, with apparent truth behind the rumors, that Denver made advances towards David Quinn, prior to him being named the new coach at Boston University, and possibly even before Jack Parker announced his retirement. Remember, Quinn had been the assistant coach in Denver, for the NHL's Colorado Avalanche. Since Quinn was hired on March 26th, DU's approaches would have had to be before that date. And since we heard about the discontent with Gwozdecky in mid-March, that falls within the timeline.
Donors to the Athletic Department have been told this week that former Chancellor Dan Ritchie will be playing a prominent role in the search for a new hockey coach. That might come as a surprise to DU alums and staffers, but Ritchie has been working behind the scenes at DU recently. Alumni have been informed of $30 million donation by Ritchie to fund the new Engineering School. Did Ritchie also play a major role in the firing of Gwozdecky?
The Athletic Department reached out to donors and fans this week and laid out a three pronged story for the firing.
* Performance - NCAA early exits
* Loyalty - Soliciting employment elsewhere
* Contract - Negotiating for a higher salary
While these excuses have been ripped to shreads by the media, the Quinn rumors suggest that Gwozdecky would have been fired no matter how Denver fared in the NCAA playoffs this season. A DU staffer confirmed last week that beating New Hampshire or anyone else last weekend likely would not have saved Gwozdecky's job.
While DU's Athletic Director takes the heat, questions that could and should be answered by the University of Denver's Board of Trustees will remain hidden.