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A senior administrator at UPEI says the university followed proper procedure in hiring its new incoming athletic director.
The university announced earlier this week that Bill Schurman, outgoing general manager of the Greater Summerside Area Chamber of Commerce and a consultant with the Summerside Storm, will replace Ron Annear as the university’s athletic director on Feb. 4.
The announcement caught just about everyone off guard. No one would comment on the record but The Guardian has been told from a number of sources that Annear had no idea it was coming nor did the university’s board of directors.
But it bumps Annear back to his old job, in charge of communications and special events with the athletics department. That puts Lynn Boudreau, who is currently serving that role, out of a job.
The Guardian asked Jackie Podger, vice-president of administration and finance at UPEI, what process the university followed in hiring Schurman, why the position wasn’t publicly posted and why the board of governors at the university didn’t know.
“Bill Schurman has been appointed to a term contract,’’ Podger said. “We followed a proper HR process and it’s common practice for a term appointment to be conducted in this way. An appointment at the directorial level is considered a typical operating and hiring procedure.’’
Podger would not say how long Schurman’s term is, explaining that UPEI doesn’t discuss the terms of one’s employment from a privacy perspective.
When asked why UPEI chose to switch athletic directors at this time, Podger said the university is in the midst of a critical budget planning process.
“We need to position UPEI athletics and recreation in the best possible way to advance our programs and reach new heights while we navigate through tough financial times.’’
She said UPEI selected Schurman because of his leadership ability and the skillset he can bring to Panther sport.
“We needed to seize the opportunity now to put together a team that will take the UPEI athletics programs to a new level.’’
Podger said Annear remains “an important part of this team, is integral to our success’’.
The Guardian did attempt to contact Tom Cullen, chairman of the board of directors, but he was out of province on Thursday.
The Guardian did speak with Boudreau but she declined to comment, as did Annear.
The newspaper also tried to contact Lynn Murray, chair of the human resources committee, but the call was not immediately returned.
Lenny Kelly, president of the UPEI men’s hockey Panthers booster club, said he was surprised at how the events unfolded.
“From a personal perspective, it’s too bad for Ronnie (Annear) because Ronnie is a really nice guy and I like him as a friend,’’ Kelly said. “It’s unfortunate with the developments that occurred.’’
Kelly added that the booster club is interested to find out what Schurman’s hiring means for the men’s hockey team.
“The fundamental thing, from our perspective, is how does all of this affect Forbie and the hockey program going forward?’’ he said, referring to head coach Forbie MacPherson.
One UPEI business graduate, who didn’t provide a name, told The Guardian, the process followed here is “appalling’’.
“I expect better from my alma mater. As a graduate of UPEI, I will no longer donate financially to the university. I hope more business graduates also show their displeasure,’’ the former student said.
There are those who are happy to see Schurman taking over.
“What a shame for Summerside to lose such a key player and supporter,’’ a commenter on The Guardian’s website said of Schurman. “Mr. Schurman has done a great many things in his career and UPEI is incredibly lucky to have him.’’