Huggan seeks independent review of UPEI athletics department

Jason Malloy
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Former president of basketball booster club resigned in April

UPEI Panthers logo

An independent review of the athletics department at UPEI is needed, the former president of the basketball teams’ booster club said Thursday.

Lyall Huggan’s public call came after women’s basketball coach Greg Gould’s resignation was announced late Wednesday night.

“If there’s smoke there’s fire and believe me there’s fire there,” Huggan told The Guardian. “There are real issues that need to be addressed.”

He chaired the Green and White booster club since it was resurrected two years ago.

Huggan spent his career working in the sport and physical education field and has worked with a number of volunteer groups.

He resigned as the booster club’s president in mid-April.

“I’ve never witnessed a more difficult department to work with,” Huggan said. “We can’t get anyone to chair the club and that’s due directly to what has taken place in the athletic administration.”

UPEI vice-president of administration and finance Jackie Podger was unavailable for an interview Thursday afternoon and evening, but arrangements were being made for one to take place today.

Gould would not get into specifics of his departure, but did say it was for professional reasons, his health was fine and he was not leaving for another job.

“Greg is about as ethical and as about as honest a coach as you are going to get,” Huggan said.

He said issues he is aware of include a lack of communication, accounting transparency, adequate practice schedules, morale in the department and much more. He added some are issues that have been ongoing for years.

He said it goes deeper than basketball program and the review would show what is happening.

Huggan said he made the request to a member of the university’s board of governors. It didn’t go anywhere and when Gould made his decision, Huggan decided to go public with the request for a review.

If there’s smoke there’s fire and believe me there’s fire there. Lyall Huggan

“What I find incomprehensible, is that an institution of higher learning which operates using principles of teaching, learning, research, evaluation, innovation, improvement, etc., finds it so difficult to conduct an independent review and evaluation of one of its own departments,” Huggan said. “If the athletics department is doing a good job that will be proven too.”

The Guardian has learned a meeting was recently held between the coaches, department staff and senior administrators of the university.

Bob Gray, one of the volunteer assistant coaches with the women’s basketball team, said he supports Gould’s decision.

“We don’t blame him in leaving one little bit,” he said.

Gray said his future on the sidelines is up in the air.

“I will continue to work with the kids in terms of academics. I owe it to them,” he said. “They are great kids.”

Mike Redmond coached soccer at the university for years before leaving in November 2012.

“We have wonderful programs and wonderful professors, but we have no openness and transparency within the university,” he said.

Redmond said there is an issue with asking the coaches to raise a significant portion of their budgets.

“It’s not surprising that we lose good coaches because at some point they get tired of fundraising because they were hired to coach,” he said.

Gould was hired by UPEI in July 2012 after more than 40 years of coaching basketball. The Moncton native replaced Carly Clarke after she took a position with Ryerson in Toronto.

Organizations: The Guardian, Ryerson

Geographic location: Moncton, Toronto

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Recent comments

  • Volunteer
    June 06, 2014 - 18:31

    As someone who has helped out with varsity teams for several years, its about time someone spoke up for the coaches. Our coaches are the lowest paid in the country, yet are expected to do more then their brethren by fundraising for everything; including their own salary, athletic awsrd money, exhibition play, travel, and anything else needed. Assistant coaches who volunteer countless hours are not paid, and often not even acknowledged by administration for the work they do. Losing Coach Gould is a terrible thing, and hopefully more of the coaches dont leave due to the poor treatment they get

  • Josh
    June 06, 2014 - 13:59

    Reviews are always necessary to grow a program. They allow for those involved to see where work has to be done. The athletics dept. is in the best shape it's been in for many many years. 300k had to be cut from the budget but they have managed to remain competitive and passionate about the program. It is quite clear that coaches at the university level have to raise funds to use towards bettering their programs. If you can't do that or don't want too, leave. It is in the description quite clearly. There is always one side of the story printed as employers or the university in this case, aren't going to cast stones towards employees or former employees. It's too bad the coach left but if he does not want to be held accountable or do the work attached to his position then so be it.

    • Darren Peters
      June 06, 2014 - 20:23

      Dear Josh/Bill: The "description" which you are referring to, was added long after the gentleman in question signed his contract. It was never signed by the coaches, simply handed to them. Anyone with any experience in human resource at all would never have authored it. One can only conclude it was prepared by a person who is not qualified for their position, has atrocious writing skills, and lastly, has little to no comprehension of the true role of a varsity coach.

    • lyall huggan
      June 06, 2014 - 23:50

      That comment by Josh( we know who Josh is) is exactly what I would expect. As one who witnessed this contract talk first hand I can attest to the fact that this so called contract was written at least three to four weeks after the official signing. This is another method of attempting to discredit coaches who have displayed nothing but integrity throughout the whole process. I will sign my name to what I write and will no way sit still while you make an effort to paint the coach as the culprit. Come on Josh you can do better than that.

    • Do Your Research
      June 09, 2014 - 16:11

      The job posting to which Mr. Gould applied clearly included fundraising. Mr. Gould did not need to sign anything, as by applying and accepting the job he knew that fundraising would be a part of it. It is unfortunate that Mr. Gould is unhappy with his current position and was unable to work things out with his employer. In situations like this sometimes resignation is the best option.

  • Former Volunteer
    June 06, 2014 - 13:43

    Interesting. I knew I was a good dedicated volunteer/ person but certainly wasn't treated that way when changes occurred in that department over the last couple of years. Here is someone else that would be interested in a review of that department.

  • Duncan Conrad
    June 06, 2014 - 07:09

    I agree entirely with Lyle Huggans comments. The support of academic athletes by the University is virtually non existent. Our coaches and volunteers work endless hours with little or no support and in many instances road blocks to carrying out a basic program. The sad thing is that this approach has been going on for years and i fully support the need for a review , otherwise we won't have any programs as great coaches like Greg Gould, and the volunteers that support them will no longer be there. It's our student athletes that are the losers in all of this.