UPEI official: athletic department review decision made

Jason Malloy jmalloy@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on June 7, 2014
Jackie Podger

A third party will conduct a review of UPEI’s athletics department.

Vice-president of administration and finance Jackie Podger said the decision was made before women’s basketball coach Greg Gould’s resignation on Wednesday. In Friday’s edition of The Guardian, Lyall Huggan, the past president of the basketball teams’ booster club, made the request for a review.

“I am responsible for the operations of the university, and I have not heard people . . . calling (for the review) for weeks now,” Podger said.

Women’s basketball program supporter Darren Peters said others in top positions with the university were made aware of the situation.

“There are those of us in the community who have reached out to the president of the university as well as the chair of board of governors on numerous occasions pleading for action, pleading for an investigation,” he said.

Podger said the review would start in the near future once the independent third party has been selected. She expected the review would take less than a month to complete.

“It’s not something that needs to be a prolonged exercise.”

Podger said these types of operational reviews are undertaken regularly to see how it can do things better.

The review of the athletics department will look at items like the budget model and communications, but Podger was unsure if it would deal with human resource issues.

“Normally, if someone has an human resource issue, they will probably bring it to the director first or they can bring it to HR as well,” she said.

“I would hope that if there were those types of issues then that would be happening. . . People need to know what the issue is to fix it.”

Podger said there are some athletics department jobs posted, which would help the department run more efficiently when filled.

“What you will see is more streamlining, more efficiencies, better communications,” she said. “It will make for a better functioning department.”

Podger said many of the concerns raised recently have been ongoing for at least five years. Both her and the athletic director have each been in their positions for less than two years and, she said, they are working on addressing them.

“I think there’s misinformation out there,” she said.

Peters said he became aware of issues last fall.

“I think it’s very clear to those of us who have been involved in trying to support the athletes and the UPEI Athletics that the situation has gone to a defcon level and is now at the worst state it’s ever been,” he said.

Podger said she, the president and athletic director met with the coaches about six weeks ago as part of an annual discussion. The university has put in place professional development funding for coaches and are getting new uniforms for the teams as a result.

Podger said the money for the uniforms is coming from a small contingency fund in her budget.

“I felt that it was certainly something that was required,” she said.

Podger met with the hockey coaches and the men’s basketball coach on Thursday and she said  no one raised issues within the department.