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McCloskey challenging university’s decision

Staff Writer

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.”

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Thu Feb 6 2014 16:09
I don't understand how he gets away with blatantly lying to the press.
Mon Feb 3 2014 17:21
The fact of the matter in this case is the coach assaulted (doesn't matter how slight) the player - it was unwanted physical contact. Ever have someone walk behind you, grab your shoulders, and buckle your knees? Of course McCloskey is going to put his spin on it. The piece that is really horrible is what he said - "When asked if he'd seen this type of interaction on a men's bench, he said, "Yes. Happens all the time." Indicating the culture of abuse in athletics - and don't think for a moment this coach hasn't been physical with other players...they are not all supporting him as he would lead you to believe. Look at athletics in higher education in general - rampant with all sorts of corruption. Assault is assault is assault and he admitted to it.
Kalle Blomkvist
Fri Jan 31 2014 21:25
@Anonymous 9:26
I'm only skeptical because that comment came in written statement and no one has, to my knowledge, asked McCloskey to elaborate or defend it.

I do think the news media does, generally, have an anti-worker attitude. It takes a lot of noise and evidence for questions about a persons' work complaints to get an honest look from a reporter and a lot more work to make employers answer them. UNH should respond to his accusations.

@Anon 12:06
I suspect that if Dick Umile or Sean McDonnell wanted to cut one of their players because of continued discipline and fitness issues, the athletic department wouldn't step and stop them.

There are obviously many factors that go into the decision to cut someone; but if the school hired a coach to run the team and the coach decides that the best thing for his team is to cut the player, how can it be OK for the school to step in a say no?

According to McCloskey, the player wasn't kept around because she was good or because the department believed she needed another chance, but because she was a number on UNH's Title IX requirements.

If that's true, it's disgusting.

Fri Jan 31 2014 12:06
To say that the University's initial statements were "misleading" and somehow implied sexual behavior is really presumptuous. Personnel matters are routinely announced in the vaguest possible terms, and the University's statements were clear that the "inappropriate" behavior occurred during a game. If anyone thinks the Coach was involved in sexual behavior they just didn't read the initial statements clearly.
Furthermore, for Coach McCloskey to suggest that this behavior happens routinely in men's sports is outright wrong. Its not that he yelled, its not that he stuck his finger in her face. Its that he forcibly pulled her back by her jersey.
I fully agree with the commenter below that if the player was disruptive she should have been benched far earlier. Keep her on the team if you have to (according to Blomkvist's comment) but no playing time until she has established a track record of "clean" behavior. Now *that* has precedence as a way of disciplining unruly players.
Fri Jan 31 2014 11:50
I love the people who post that "if we really knew what happened..." we'd agree with the university.

Then post it! You're anonomys on a message board - say whatever you want.

But then you'd have to make up a story. Because the actual facts are 100 percent on McCloskey's side.

Fri Jan 31 2014 09:26
Anon sounds just like a poster on a popular college hockey website; everyone else has outed him/her as an obvious plant. Perhaps the roommate or friend of the offending player? Point is, those posts on and the ones here are dramatically similar and this person's credibility is nil. Katie Blomkvist - you sound un-convinced about the reason behind keeping the player. As a former college coach myself, I can assure you that the scenario described happens more than you think; so it's totally reasonable to assume that McCloskey is being truthful. I've spoken with several friends who were eye witnesses of the event - probably more than Marty has - and there is no reason whatsoever to have allowed it to come to this point. Anyone who claims it was "violent and disturbing" has hyped it out of proportion for it was nothing of the sort. The player was clearly in the wrong and should have been disciplined. McCloskey did nothing wrong. And this is going to cost the U money and embarrassment. Shameful on Marty's part.
Thu Jan 30 2014 22:43
I think. Brian. Is a little baby boy who really never grew up!
Thu Jan 30 2014 15:35
Why don't you tell us what happened, Anon?
Wed Jan 29 2014 17:23
Ohhhh this story is way too one-sided. If you knew what actually happened, I'm positive you would agree with the University's decision. I can't believe he's trying to make himself seem like a victim.
Kalle Blomkvist
Wed Jan 29 2014 16:20
TNH didn't report it here, but the documents that Foster's had said that the athletic department asked McCloskey not to cut the problem player because of concerns over the schools Title IX requirements. Losing too many female athletes could cost the school scholarships for male athletes. That was according to McCloskey though, so you have to take it with a grain of salt, I think.

If it is true, and the school pressured a coach to keep a problem player, and then fired the coach because there were problems with the player, that seems really .... avoidable in hindsight.

Wed Jan 29 2014 12:02
As a former hockey coach, the simple answer is that after multiple discipline issues, the offending player should have been sent to the locker room and told to clean out her stuff, she was all done. Unfortunately this player was allowed to set up this dynamic, create her own rules and was allowed to continue playing. No player of mine was ever allowed to confront me on the bench and continue playing.
One has to ask why so many talented players have transferred to other programs under this coach's watch? How has UNH fallen so dramatically in the ranking when the University is investing so much money in the program. It is mediocre and very average. Maybe it was time for a change anyway and this was a quick out.
Tue Jan 28 2014 08:30
Ah, the parents got involved. That explains a lot. Scarano has crawled into a hole, perfect for the weasel he is. The internet has lit up with conversation of this and people are rightfully outraged over the treatment. UNH, Scarano and anyone involved with this press release and decision should be ashamed of themselves Absolutely disgraceful.

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