Huggan seeks independent review of UPEI athletics department

Former president of basketball booster club resigned in April

Jason Malloy jmalloy@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on June 6, 2014
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.

“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.