Mel Pearson out as Michigan men’s hockey coach after serious allegations surface

Mel Pearson is out as the University of Michigan men’s hockey coach, the school announced Friday.

Pearson, whose contract expired in early May, had remained an employee of the school. A third-party investigative report into Pearson and his program raised serious allegations, including that Pearson forced a former team captain out of the program, directed players to lie on COVID-19 contact-tracing forms, provided accounts to investigators that were deemed “not credible” and oversaw a program in which there was “mistreatment of female staff members” and “pervasive fear” about retaliation amongst both players and staff members.

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Michigan men’s hockey coach accused of berating staff, misleading recruits and retaliating against team captain

Additionally, an anonymous culture survey that was administered to the program in May 2021 revealed that respondents raised concerns about Pearson berating and belittling staffers, and singling out players inappropriately, including, in one alleged instance, calling a player a “Jew.”

“This decision has been weighed heavily and for some time,” athletic director Warde Manuel said in a statement. “We welcomed an independent third-party review into the climate and culture of our program before furthering our assessment in lockstep with campus leadership.”

Manuel went on to say, “today’s announcement reflects the seriousness with what we’ve heard and the values ​​we hold dear at Michigan.”

The anonymous survey also revealed fear among those in the program to voice concerns, and allegations that Pearson misleads “recruits about the scholarship money they will receive, pushes players off the team each year by telling them they will not have a spot on the team, and then lies to the team about why the players left.”

The Athletic reported the contents of that survey, as well as the findings of the WilmerHale report, in a story published Tuesday.

Michigan’s athletic department declined to comment The Athletic’s story, stating that it does not comment on personnel matters. Pearson did not respond to multiple calls, emails and text messages seeking comment.

The allegations against Pearson sparked an internal debate about his future. According to one source, Manuel initially supported Pearson and advocated on his behalf to university officials, including the Board of Regents, who were united in wanting Pearson to be terminated.

(Photo: Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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