Summertime...and a time to look forward to a new season for the Engineers. I will post some comments soon on the freshman class and the prospects for this winter. In the meantime...any comments from others on where this team goes from here?
Very strange news: RPI has fired their women's ice hockey coach, John Burke. Announcement made on a Saturday, three months after season ends— Sam Blum (@SamBlum3) June 24, 2017
Spoke w. RPI AD Lee McElroy. Said this will be a restricted search, meaning RPI contacts candidates. Will have interim coach within 10 days.— Sam Blum (@SamBlum3) June 24, 2017
RPI AD Lee McElroy said he was busy with men's hockey search, which is partially why this decision was so late in the process. Senseless...— Sam Blum (@SamBlum3) June 24, 2017
Weird timing for this decision for sure and a pretty lame reason from the AD. I felt JB should have been fired at the same time as the men's coach was. In my opinion that would have sent a stronger message of "We are committed to making both hockey programs better." Instead this sends the message of "Men's hockey is more important and the women's team can get by next year with just an interim coach instead of us doing a national search at the right time of the year like we did with the men's position." So which assistant coach do you think they'll name as interim? No matter what I hope they'll name someone with an actual personality and who is not afraid of making the right hockey decisions on a moment's notice instead of waiting forever to make changes and adjustments to try to improve things along the way.
Official announcement of Coach Burke being relieved of his duties https://www.rpiathletics.com/news/201...spx?path=whock
Here's the link to the announcement on RPI's web site:
Sam Blum's article in the Record:
Two things are clear: 1) we need to thank John Burke for his tremendous dedication to this program and wish him all the best in his future endeavours...a real class act who was respected by the young women who played for him; 2) we need to turn the page now and hope that RPI finds a positive path forward.
Like any enterprise or endevour you need buy-in from the top down. Right now faith in the top truly seems to be lacking.
Though I take issue with your comments about justification of firing JB. If SA was canned how can you keep JB with the same results or worse. Part of 1) is questionable as well. If you are really that close to the program you would know. 2) Well maybe the right person gets picked for the HC position, but calling them interim will hurt recruiting. Not doing a national search is a bit of a joke. Seriously give me any logical reason a national search is not being done?
How do you think those young women feel at the moment being put in this position. Look at what happened at Union and why, that team is on the up.
freshmenfirst year students coming back to school soon, continuity is important. Better to have a one year interim coach who's already familiar with the team, than to have no coach starting from scratch this close to the season. Besides, you can always re-evaluate at the end of the year and if it's not the right fit, you can do it right.
Uncle Mickey: July 23, 1950-July 22, 2003
WRPI, 91.5 FM...usually color commentary.
- Totally agree that this inidciates that women's hockey is less important than men's hockey. But is that surprising? Isn't that true at virtually every D1 school? Revenue vs non-revenue, high visibility vs low visibility, etc.
- Totally don't believe that the real reason they waited is that they could only do 1 national search at a time. I mean, it is even stupid for the AD to say something along those lines - makes him look like an idiot.
- More likely, something like this:
- School economics at RPI are not very good (debt is very low rated and they are struggling financially). This is a result (by majority opinion of alumni) of extremely poor fiscal management by the current administration and high investment in fringe areas (a massively expensive state of the art performing arts center at RPI??? Seriously??).
- The school has seriously upgraded its investment in D3 programs - see the football stadium and other new facilities that have been built in the last ~10 years. My guess is that these are imposing a very large depreciation and maintenance expense on the school that they probably poorly planned for. Additionally, many of these programs have been successful and they realize they are more of a draw for the school then D1 women's hockey.
- Severance packages, coach searches, and hiring coaches can be expensive. They probably have severe budget restrictions related to above and a salary cap on coach expenses. They needed to figure out how much the men's coaches were going to absorb of the available funding before they proceeded with the women's team. My guess is was a lot and more than they expected.
- Burke is probably well paid given he has been the HC for 14 years and likely has gotten annual raises. Cutting him was a savings (and easily justified). They will use a low paid interim this season, solving a short term issue for next season.
- They will do a national search next year in a different budget year when they can afford it. And they will go all U Maine on it to keep the costs down by underpaying the market.
Given the source of our last two women's coaches (assistants from the men's program), I wonder if Brian Vines has lined a position for the coming year. He certainly has more experience than either of our women's team assistants. Perhaps he'd make a good interim coach while retaining the current assistants in their present roles to provide experience on the women's side.
As for this entire process, it's insane. "Interim coach" is a title that should only be used if you have to make an in-season appointment due to a major issue. Burke had just come into alignment with the new dynamics of recruitment which seems to have evolved from the men's side. Increasingly players are committing two and even three years out. Having a 9 month interim is a formula for losing all of the current recruits while putting the new, mid--2018 version in the unenviable position of starting from scratch with few freshman (at least when you terminate at the end of the year you generally keep most of the freshman if, for no other reason, than it's too late to make alternate plans) and no pipeline. Can you imagine even trying to recruit players for the next nine months? What can you tell them about the future of the program?
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