UAF police: Shyiak's action "possibly" a misdemeanor; no charge pursued

bbragg@adn.comJune 19, 2013 

UAA head hockey coach Dave Shyiak gives pointers to his team during the first practice of the season on Tuesday, September 20, 2011 at the UAA Sports Center.

BOB HALLINEN / ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS

— The UAF police department reached a different conclusion than UAA's former athletic director after investigating a 2011 incident in which UAA's former hockey coach hit a player.

Dave Shyiak "possibly" committed a misdemeanor assault when he used a hockey stick to slash a player across the thighs during practice, according to a written report by the UAF police.

No charge will be forwarded for prosecution because the victim, former player Nick Haddad, doesn't want to pursue it, UAF investigator Steve Goetz said in the report.

"Based on Haddad's wish a charge of assault will not be referred," Goetz wrote.

Last month after the incident was made public by the Daily News, former athletic director Steve Cobb said he investigated the matter after it happened and concluded Shyiak's actions didn't merit punishment. Cobb fired Shyiak in March after eight straight losing seasons.

The athletic department's response to the assault led to public criticism of Cobb, who was also drawing fire for the school's search for a new hockey coach. The search was eventually revamped, and Cobb was eventually fired.

UAF police were asked to investigate the Shyiak incident, and portions of the subsequent report were made available to the Daily News on Wednesday. Only about 21/2 pages of the 49-page report were available because university lawyers are reviewing it to determine if its full release violates confidentiality, university spokeswoman Kristin DeSmith said.

Goetz said the UAA athletic department made a "very sparsely conducted inquiry" in 2011. He recommended the establishment of a written policy that details how such matters are investigated in the future.

"The lack of a Standard Operating Procedure related to reported criminal activity likely contributed to the incident not being fully investigated in 2011," Goetz wrote.

He recommended that a written policy be established that incorporates "what an investigation minimally consists of and how many levels up something must be reported."

DeSmith said such a policy exists and is included in the 2012 UAA Campus Security and Fire Safety Report. It says that anyone with a significant responsibility for student and campus activities is a "campus security authority" and is required by federal law to report incidents and/or crimes. The athletic department staff, including coaches, trainers and administrators, are listed in the report as campus security authorities.

"So if someone comes to them and says something happened, they are to go to the police and let the police decide (if it's a crime)," DeSmith said.

There is no indication that happened in 2011 when the athletic department learned that Shyiak hit Haddad.

In his investigation of the Shyiak case, Goetz said he reviewed possible charges of hindering prosecution, coercion, compounding and false report. "None of these charges appear relevant in this case," he wrote.

Nor did he find evidence that Shyiak threatened players in a team meeting the day after he hit Haddad, a claim made by player Mickey Spencer.

"Those comments were vague in nature and some people took it to mean that they may place their play time or scholarships in jeopardy by speaking out," Goetz wrote. "Others thought the comments indicated that the event was in the past and that they needed to focus on upcoming games."

 

Reach Beth Bragg at bbragg@adn.com or 257-4335.

 

 

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