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Mel Pearson Officially Removed as Michigan Hockey Coach




Mel Pearson
Mel Pearson (Photo: David Wilcomes,

ANN ARBOR, Michigan — Three months after an investigation into the Michigan hockey program, it was recommended that the The university’s leadership “is taking steps to address a number of issues,” Mel Pearson announced as the program’s head coach.

“It has been established that Mel Pearson will not return as our ice hockey coach,” Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel said in a statement released Friday afternoon. “This decision has been heavily weighted for some time. We welcomed an independent third-party assessment of the climate and culture of our program before continuing our assessment in step with campus leadership.

“…Today’s announcement reflects the seriousness of what we’ve heard and the values ​​we hold dear in Michigan.”

The news came two days after several news outlets revealed the findings of a report commissioned by the university. The investigation, conducted by the law firm WilmerHale, said:The preponderance of the evidence does not support the conclusion that: [Pearson] involved behavior that conflicts with [the University’s Policy on Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct]”However, the investigation identified and detailed”concerns about the culture and functioning of men’s hockey program”, particularly in the treatment of athletes and women on staff.

The report called Pearson’s “inability or reluctance” to hold then Director of Hockey Operations Rick Bancroft accountable for his treatment of staff and Pearson’s “inconsistencies in … memory, perception and/or characterization of significant incidents,” and it said UM should “see if [Pearson’s] behavior conflicts with other university policies.” Bancroft withdrew from the program at the end of June for unknown reasons.

The report can be read in full here.

Until Friday, Pearson had remained Michigan’s hockey coach as an at-will employee, despite his contract expiring on May 1. During his five seasons in charge of the program, he led the Wolverines to two Frozen Four appearances, most recently last year. Pearson said earlier this year that he “convinced” that allegations about his program would prove “false”, and last weekend he expressed his wish to keep his job, also letting recruits and others know that he expected to return. report of John U. Bacon suggested athletic director Warde Manuel Pearson wanted to renew, while other members of the university leadership opposed a new contract.

“I work under the direction of Warde, the regents and the president. I hope I showed them enough to be here,” Pearson told The Michigan Insider last Saturday. He pointed to Michigan’s on-ice performance, pass rate, recruiting gains and low outbound transfer rates are among the metrics that supported the stability of the program.

But the research painted a darker picture of the Michigan hockey program under Pearson. The report was limited in scope: to determine whether Pearson retaliated against volunteer assistant Steve Shields for raising concerns about behavior that is contrary to the Policy about sexual and gender-based misconduct; it concluded “the preponderance of the evidence” shows Not Pearson. However, nasked a third of respondents to a university survey said they: “Personally perceived offensive, harassing, discriminatory or intimidating behavior” within the hockey program, according to the athletic. And researchers found “multiple instances where team leadership acted unprofessionally, especially in interactions with female staffers and in the treatment of student athletes.”

Until Friday afternoon’s announcement of the coaching change, the University of Michigan had not publicly commented on the study, nor acknowledged its existence. However, the report received widespread attention at a time when hockey as a sport is being held accountable for general misconduct. Since the report was published in full by MLive, multiple media outlets, including the UM student newspaper, have called on Michigan to fire Pearson.

“Having a positive and meaningful experience for our student-athletes is paramount, and a clear expectation within our department is that all staff and associates are valued and supported. I appreciate and appreciate the many individuals who have emerged during this review very,” Manuel said in his statement.

Pearson was the ninth head coach in University of Michigan hockey history. He was hired in April 2017 to replace Red Berenson. The Wolverines reached the Frozen Four during Pearson’s inaugural season in Michigan and again in 2021-22 – the latter featuring one of the more talented teams in the recent college hockey history.

Michigan will kick off the season on October 1 with an exhibition game against Windsor.

Story photo by David Wilcomes,




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