UAA athletics in turmoil: A timeline

bbragg@adn.comJune 14, 2013 

• March 29: UAA athletic director Steve Cobb fires hockey coach Dave Shyiak, who was 80-177-33 in eight straight losing seasons. A search committee is formed to find Shyiak's replacement, consisting of volleyball coach Chris Green, men's basketball coach Rusty Osborne, running coach Michael Friess and faculty athletic representative Stephen Strom. Critics note the lack of hockey alumni or members of the hockey community on the committee.

• April 17: UAA names four finalists for the hockey job.

• April 20: The Alaska State Hockey Association, which represents 10,000 players statewide, unanimously passes a resolution of "no confidence" in Cobb, saying "what we'd like to accomplish is a change in leadership."

• April 22-May 1: Each of the four finalists for the hockey job comes to Anchorage for interviews.

• April 23: The UAA Hockey Alumni Association, which represents about 300 former Seawolves and has contributed about $100,000 to athletics over the years, passes a resolution of "no confidence" in Cobb, saying it feels alienated by the athletic director.

• April 25: UAA Chancellor Tom Case makes a public statement of support for Cobb.

• May 2: Case suspends the search for a hockey coach, saying "there was so much interest in the process we decided to open it up to further input and ideas."

• May 7: A supplemental search committee, one that includes former players and program founder Brush Christiansen, is appointed to assist the search for a hockey coach. Criteria for the job is changed to attract a broader range of candidates. The new coach will need big shoulders, Christiansen says: "We've lost, I feel, a lot of community support."

• May 13: The Daily News reveals details of 2011 incident in which Shyiak used his hockey stick to slash player Nick Haddad across the thighs during a practice. Players intervened to separate the coach and player. UAA says it followed university protocol at the time and referred the matter to Strom, UAA's faculty athletic representative.

• May 15: Haddad confirms in a prepared statement that Shyiak struck him during practice but says reports of the assault were exaggerated. UAA says Strom attempted to interview Haddad in 2011 but the player didn't respond to email or voicemail messages. The university will not say if Strom interviewed Shyiak, his coaching staff or any of players who witnessed the incident.

• May 17: Cobb says he investigated the Shyiak-Haddad incident after it happened in 2011 by speaking with the equipment manager, a trainer and some players. He concluded no discipline was warranted.

(In 2010, Cobb formally reprimanded Shyiak for throwing a water bottle across the ice and stepping onto the ice to argue with officials during a game in Fairbanks. In 2006, Cobb suspended associate men's basketball coach Shane Rinner eight days without pay for striking player Luke Cooper on the neck during a timeout in a game in Lacey, Wash.)

• May 17: Cobb confirms to the Daily News that the NCAA is investigating UAA for self-reported violations. He doesn't say what the violations are, when they happened or what sport is involved.

• May 20: Shyiak says in prepared statement that reports of the Haddad incident were exaggerated in an attempt to discredit Cobb, made by people wanting to oust the athletic director.

• May 23: Gov. Sean Parnell writes to University of Alaska president Patrick Gamble, asking him to "take a stand" on well-publicized issues involving UAA athletics.

• May 27: Anchorage businessmen Steve Nerland and Don Winchester voice confidence in Cobb and announce the formation of a group called Stand Up For UAA Athletics.

• May 28: Parnell's letter is made public by the Daily News.

• May 29: Case fires Cobb, saying "It has become clear in recent days that despite his efforts, Steve will not be able to bring all elements of the public together in support of UAA, and that criticism of Steve has become a distraction from the great work that UAA does every day."

• June 3: UAA names six finalists for the hockey job, including four who emerged during the second search.

• June 5: Case appears in front of the university's Board of Regents. Though the conversation moves into executive session after 25 minutes, Case tells the board that policies are in place that describe acceptable behavior by authority figures in the athletic department.


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