McCloskey challenging university’s decision
Published: Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 03:01
The University of New Hampshire has refused to disclose any more information than it did on Dec. 6 regarding the firing of UNH women’s ice hockey head coach Brian McCloskey. The university said at the time that it was a “personal issue,” and McCloskey is now perplexed by their silence.
“This whole process has been fear-driven, and I don’t know why,” McCloskey said. “Immediately, when they terminated me, they put the Maxwell Smart code of silence on all the coaches in the university … nobody says a word about it, no one has any contact with me in the university from the Athletic Department.”
A month after being dismissed, McCloskey broke his silence to the press in early January, stating that he was fired illegally by UNH and that he wants to be reinstated as head coach of the women’s hockey team that he coached for 10 and a half years. In addition, he claims that the university has “humiliated” him, defaming him with their vague explanation of the “inappropriate physical contact” for which he was fired on Dec. 5.
The university conducted an investigation in the days leading up to McCloskey’s firing, but they refuse to reveal what they found in the investigation, even to McCloskey.
“What’s disturbing is UNH keeps refusing to divulge what they found out in their supposed investigation,” McCloskey said. “They’re denying me the so-called investigative file. They’re hiding it. They won’t come forward with it.”
In a letter dated Dec. 18, 2013, and written to Pamela Diamantis, chair of the UNH Board of Trustees, McCloskey wrote, “I believe I was wrongfully terminated, I am asking to be reinstated, and I believe I am owed a public apology.”
Laura Studen, McCloskey’s lawyer, wrote to University of New Hampshire President Mark Huddleston in a letter dated Dec. 6, 2013, that McCloskey’s firing was “not only a vast overreaction, and an excessive response, lacking in any proportionality, but it was also improper and illegal. Accordingly, this is to demand his immediate reinstatement.”
McCloskey said it is an outrage that he has been treated as such after coaching at UNH for 21 years, his first 10 as an assistant coach on the men’s team. The university’s statement on Dec. 5 gave no indication as to what type of physical contact was made during the incident, which took place during a home game on Nov. 30 against Ohio State.
By McCloskey’s account, as well as that of the university, the contact was not sexual in nature. McCloskey disclosed this information in an undated letter to his former UNH coaching staff.
“Both my wife Karen and I were deluged with hundreds upon hundreds of requests to clarify what had transpired while stating that they were in disbelief that I would have had any ‘sexual’ engagement or contact with one of my student athletes,” McCloskey said in an email to his former coaching staff, which he disclosed to Foster’s Daily Democrat. “I can only hope that none of you experience anything similar.”
Studen wrote in her letter that a “demand is made” on Huddleston to “correct any and all possible misimpressions and limit any further damage to Mr. McCloskey’s reputation.”
At the top of Studen’s list of three demands, Studen demanded UNH acknowledge “That [sic] the ‘inappropriate physical contact’ referred to in the press releases approved by the University consisted of nothing whatsoever of a sexual nature, and the University apologizes to Mr. McCloskey and his family if the press releases were misleading in this regard.”
In the letter to his former coaches, McCloskey described the university’s description of the incident, which took place during the first period of that day’s game.
“In my termination letter,” he wrote in the letter, “The administration described the incident as grabbing the back of the player’s jersey, pulling her onto the bench and pointing a finger at her face mask while reprimanding her for not listening and talking back.”