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Continued: Former Anchorage coach accused of hitting player with hockey stick

  • Article by: DOYLE WOODY , Anchorage Daily News
  • Last update: May 14, 2013 - 1:57 AM

While declining to identify the sport, the coach or the players involved, Olson provided the following narrative of events:

Athletic director Cobb was told by a third party in 2011 of an allegation similar to Spencer's. Cobb followed university protocol and referred the matter to Dr. Stephen Strom, UAA's faculty athletic representative and associate dean of extended studies and workforce development at the school's Community and Technical College.

"Strom emailed the alleged victim more than once and followed up with a phone call and voicemail, but received no response," Olson wrote. "Strom then reviewed the situation with AD Cobb, who briefed Athletics personnel regarding the situation. Given that (team) practices were conducted in public and that there was no corroboration, staff determined that no further review was required. AD Cobb states that he nonetheless addressed the concern with the coach."

Olson declined to say whether Strom tried to interview anyone other than the victim.

Fitzgerald said he doesn't think Shyiak ever spoke with Strom about the incident.

Strom declined to comment Monday.

Cobb, too, declined to answer questions from the Daily News on Monday, citing the current investigation.

Spencer left the hockey program at the holiday break in 2012 over what he described as "philosophical differences" with Shyiak. He said he is going public now because he doesn't believe UAA's athletic department is providing "a safe, healthy environment for student-athletes to pursue academics and athletics."

"I can no longer sit back and know that this went on and not inform someone about it," Spencer wrote to Gamble. "I hope to have children one day, and should they ever be athletes, I would hope that if something like this happened to them, someone would speak out and stand up for them."

Spencer, 23, lives in his hometown of Gibbons, Alberta, and is no longer involved in organized hockey. He sells boats and all-terrain vehicles.

Spencer was suspended by Shyiak for one game in December 2011 after being issued a major penalty and game misconduct for spearing an opponent in a game at Minnesota State-Mankato, and wrote in his letter to Gamble that "I understood the suspension for my infraction and accepted my fate."

Spencer, then the team's leading goal scorer, said Shyiak told him that, if he were asked why he was not playing, he should say he was a "healthy scratch," meaning fit for game duty but unable to crack the lineup.

He alleged in his letter to Gamble that Shyiak told him, "It won't look good and will just be a big distraction if the headline in tomorrow's paper reads, 'Leading Scorer for UAA Suspended.' "

UAA is now looking to replace Shyiak, a process that was derailed and restarted after vigorous complaints from Seawolf hockey alumni and the Anchorage hockey community, both of which were upset that the initial search committee did not include an alumni or member of the hockey community.

Both the Alaska State Hockey Association and the UAA Hockey Alumni Association have passed resolutions of no-confidence in athletic director Cobb, who hires and supervises the school's coaches.

Fitzgerald, Shyiak's attorney, said he found the timing of allegations against his client suspect.

"I think this is really misdirected, because in my view, it is really designed to oust Dr. Cobb and, unfortunately, Dave is bearing the brunt of this," Fitzgerald said. "The timing of this doesn't escape me. It's transparent."

After the public outcry, Case, the UAA chancellor, halted the original search. The university has since appointed a supplemental search committee that includes UAA hockey founder Brush Christiansen and three former Seawolf skaters.

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