Gwozdecky Firing Been In The Works For Awhile

(above) This rumor has been gaining steam for three days, has now emerged online
University of Denver Athletic Director Peg Bradley-Doppes will not be speaking to the media today or any day in the foreseeable future about the firing of head hockey coach George Gwozdecky.  In some quarters that may be seen as a sign of weakness on the part of the Athletic Department and the university.

The media coverage of the firing has been overwhelmingly negative and its probable that facing a hostile press corps would delve into questions the university is unwilling to answer.

There's also a possibility that DU could be afraid of potential litigation regarding this matter and anything said publicly or privately could be brought up later.  Did the university follow all their internal protocols when firing a university employee?  Did the university's Board of Trustees follow their own By-laws when agreeing to buy out the contract?  Did the Board's Athletic Affairs Committee act within their own purview when making this decision?  Were any federal or state laws violated when buying out the Gwozdecky contract?

The first rumbles of discontent with Gwozdecky were detected in mid-March.  The wheels may have been in motion long before, but by mid-March DU was seriously looking at alternatives.  Several high level donors where reportedly dissatisfied with the coach.  

Onlines rumors out of Boston this week suggest that DU made advances towards Boston University's new hockey coach David Quinn.  Since Quinn was hired on March 26th, DU's approaches would have had to be before that date.  And since we heard about the discontent with Gwozdecky in mid-March, that falls within the timeline.

Donors to the Athletic Department have been told this week that former Chancellor Dan Ritchie will be playing a prominent in the search for a new hockey coach.  That might come as a surprise to DU alums and staffers, but Ritchie has been working behind the scenes at DU recently.  Alumni have been informed of $30 million donation by Ritchie to fund the new Engineering School.  Did Ritchie also play a major role in the firing of Gwozdecky?

The Athletic Department reached out to donors and fans this week and laid out a three pronged story for the firing. 
  •  Performance - NCAA early exits
  •  Loyalty - Soliciting employment elsewhere
  •  Contract - Negotiating for a higher salary
While these excuses have been ripped to shreads by the media, the Quinn rumors suggest that Gwozdecky would of been fired no matter how DU had fared in the NCAA playoffs this season.  A DU staffer confirmed yesterday that beating New Hampshire or anyone else last weekend likely would not have saved Gwozdecky's job.

While DU's Athletic Director takes the heat, questions that could and should be answered by the University of Denver's Board of Trustees will remain hidden.


Anonymous said...

Honestly, this all sounds quite speculative, and if BC hockey blog is the only source at this point, I will wait for more details to emerge. And are you suggesting that gwoz still would have gotten fired if DU made the frozen four or won a national title this year?

Anonymous said...

So here is my version of Peg's press 'truth' conference:

"Good morning and thanks for coming out to the Champions Room today. So you want the truth, do you?"

DU doesn't really do truth very publically, but I will shake things up for you because I am tired of all the insulting things people are writing about me, my hyphen and my lack of visibility...

The truth is my hands are tied by a tired old Board of Directors where only a few of them understand big time sports. They all have so much money that that don't care what you fans think.

We also have a Chancellor who pretends to be interested in sports, but really is all about remaking DU into Camp Diversity to please his fellow presidents. He'd probably like us to make headlines for hiring an African-American female hockey coach for our men, but there just aren't too many out there...

Ok - start taking notes. Here is truth:

1. The University of Denver expenses for the presidential debate exceeded the budget. We have to pay for that overstep, so All DU departments have been asked to reduce their expenses. My division has been asked to cut $500,000 from from my $25 million budget, but remember that scholarships make up about 50% of my budget, and we are charged by the University for those, so my real athletic budget is about $12 million and the $500,000 hit really hurts. This means I don't have the money for a the big raise you want, George.

2. George can't be losing to RIT and Ferris State and not making it out of the first round of the NCAAs, George. 1-6 since NCAAs since 2005? Really? We don't expect you to go to Frozen Fours every year, but once every four years or so would be the right expectation for you, and you simply haven't met that level of success since 2005.

3. We had to pay the Summit League entrance fee (about $800K) and hockey tickets sales were down this year, and so were hoops tickets, and this was also a drag on game night revenues, too. This means there is no extra money from that pot, George. See my theme here?

4. Additionally, George has been pressing us for the last four years for a big victory-lap sunset contract. We don't do this kids of back-loaded contracts anymore. We're more about lower base pay and short term bonuses for performance.

5. George, you were shopping yourself around to bump up your contract leverage. This angered our Board. It worked when Wisconsin and Michigan State were looking around years ago, but we're not falling for that again, and the OSU flirtation was basically a public finger in our eye. And there were others, too. Not a good way to build goodwill with your bosses.

6. George was a great coach, but he's done other things that have pissed off the Board that I can't get into here.

7. We're no longer just a hockey school, and I have other coaches I need to pay. It's important that they know that DU will support them enough to be effective, but we don't have an unlimited gravy train here. Hey Joe Scott - love where you are headed with the hoops program, but we need 4,000 paying fans per game, not 1,500 full paying fans with 3,000 subsidized "Rising Star" tickets for kids. Let this Gwoz firing be a warning to you that your job is to get to the NCAA tourney next year in year seven of your deal. And Bill Tierney, you are doing great but if you want more big dough, you are going to need to draw more that 1900 per fans game. I want that hillside full and scalpers out front. You need to make Barton obsolete. And you, Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart: You don't need to worry - because Joy Burns picks up your tab and we can get 2000 little girls to come watch you every meet. You can finish 12th-20th every damn year with the overweight gymnasts you are stuck with, too. And Andy Leroy- We know you can't win ski championships anymore becuase your budget has been slashed to the bone, but hey, no one goes to a ski meets and that's not changing.

8. Did we talk to David Quinn in March? What do you think?

Any more questions?

dggoddard said...


Story about Quinn has been out there for two to three days.

If Gwozdecky had taken DU to the Frozen Four, he would not have been fired this week. Who knows how it would of shaken out?

I'd like to see DU answer these questions. Especially these and many other questions about the Board of Trustees.

If DU chooses not to, that's their business.

Anonymous said...

@ DG...

Come on. No team, pro, college, high school, or rec league, is going to answer specific questions about coaches they DIDN'T hire.

If you choose to wait for those answers, you might need to grab yourself a beer or 40 and kick back, 'cause you're going to have a LONG time to wait.

dggoddard said...

I'm not interested in Quinn.

What's important is that this university always conducts itself with integrity beyond reproach.

I'm interested in hearing about the role the Board of Trustees played in the firing.


Because a 19-year icon in the community was fired. The only person who has displayed "integrity beyond reproach" in this whole sorry saga is Gwozdecky.

If Dan Ritchie wants to run around acting like Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, he's certainly entitled to after all he's done for the university.

But we have a right to know who's running the university. Coombe, BOT, Ritchie?

At least Jerry Jones stands up and tells you what he did and why he did it. I'm going to be sick. I just defended Jerry Jones.

Anonymous said...

I love Gwoz as much as everyone. He wins. He runs a clean program. He graduates his players and gets awesome academic perfomances from them. His personal life is role-model perfect. too.

However, he's not a saint, either. He bears some of the responsibility here, too. His stubbornness with his contract demands and his flirting with other schools (and not being totally trufthful about those flirtations) are reproachable.

Anonymous said...

The "tipping point" (washington political overused phrase) was when George undercover shopped himself to Ohio State. That got Danny boy's attention big time and from then on it was a gradual down hill route.

Anonymous said...

10:07 here...OK then, if we're not sure that Gwoz would have been fired even if he got to the Frozen Four or won a national title this year, then that blows the theory that his firing was predetermined, no matter what happened in the NCAA's. Right?

timt89 said...

If Dan Richie is one of the forces behind the board and the decision, I am 100% behind him. He is the one person responsible for DU's resurgence. He is responsible for hiring George Gwozdecky. He is the one who put his money where his mouth is. He had a vision for DU when others called it "the University of second choice" and our classes were in quonset huts That is the ONE person in this saga who I trust to put the best interests of the University and community first.

Anonymous said...

DG - "would have" or "would've." Not "would of." Seriously, you are far smarter than that.

dggoddard said...

I have always struggled mightily with spelling and grammer.

I appreciate feedback on any and all errors.:-)

Nincompoop said...

Why has DU not released the schedule yet, but the league has? And why are we only playing one series with Dakota? That's only 17 home games I think. Come out and see Coach ############# and the boys scrimmage with New Brunswick on Oct 6th.

Anonymous said...

Rutgers press conference. University president and the chair of the board thoroughly answering questions and offering transparency that far exceeds the scope of the firing of an athletic leader. Don't they know that the right way is to let the fired guy say what he wants and just hide under a rock and hope for/wait for people to "move on?" Amateurs

dggoddard said...

DU usually releases its schedule in early May. This may not be the best week for DU to be soliciting season ticket renewals, so don't look for any scheduling announcements in March.

Getting the NCHC schedule released this early was a welcome bonus and a step that the WCHA never took in the past. So props to the NCHC are in order.

NCHC teams play 24 league games.

Next season DU will play UNO, SCSU, CC, MIA & WMU four times. DU will play UMD & UND twice.

Anonymous said...

If Dan Ritchie is donating $30,000,000, I guess they're not going to be too excited about my withholding of $250/year donations! Still, I'd rather donate $250 to my kids now.....

Anonymous said...

As a long standing season ticket holder for 25 years, the last 13 years in the Crimson Club I can safely say the 2012/2013 is my last. I'm disgusted with the way the DU Admin. in the "Ivory Tower" has handled this. No class, No integrity.So save a stamp and keep your season ticket renewal package. Use the 2 cents for your new coach. You know... the one in the empty Magness Building.

Anonymous said...

@ 1:22:

I assume you realize that the main group of people you are hurting with your heroic stand against ivory tower led persecution is the student-athletes....

Anonymous said...

When I go to a hockey game, I cheer for the team and the players, not the board of trustees. Not sure what people would be really trying to accomplish by not renewing their tickets, or who they are trying to punish. Next fall, we will have a coach and a hockey team that will be wearing Denver jerseys. I'll be bummed out that Gwoz is not coaching them, but I will want them to win just as much as I did this spring.

Anonymous said...

Economic shortfalls will not be felt by the student athlete but will be felt by those who created this mess. People who believe caring about the student athletes or school means continued support fail to recognize that truly caring about them means actions that help foster change and provide them stronger role models/leaders than those that made the decision. If you find players or staff that think this was right then so be it, but til then leaving student athletes to learn and grow in an atmosphere like that is the real persecution.

dggoddard said...

Denver is a fickle sports market chock full of professional teams. In fact only 7 cities have five major sports franchises [mlb nba nfl nba mls]:


So the coach and the players are very important for DU to sell tickets.

Like I've said here and elsewhere. Bring in a homerun coach and DU might experience nothing more than a slight hiccup in ticket sales. Heck, they might get an upturn with the right guy.

That shouldn't come as a surprise to any of the people that pulled the trigger on the Gwozdecky decision.

Anonymous said...

The Board of Trustees are millionaires who don't think much about the ramifications of a negative coaching change on the recruiting, ticket sales, media image, donations or fan base. They just don't care about that kind of stuff - if they did, they probably would not have fired him.

This was a board-level pissing contest that Gwoz lost.

DU has had hockey for 60+ years, and we'll all be in the arena to cheer them on next season.

dggoddard said...

A Board of Trustees is supposed supposed "oversee" the activities of the organization.

If, in this case, they dipped down, fired the hockey coach and opened an enormous can of worms it points to a tremendous problem within the organization.

And by the same token, if they told Coombe, "Get rid of Boone," opening an enormous can of worms it points to a tremendous problem within the organization.

Anonymous said...

Forget Ritchie. Ronnie G. trying to clean this mess up and save their backsides. Go Ronnie Go!

Anonymous said...

I want to start by saying I am from ND and a huge Sioux fan. The DU series is my favorite series to watch. Gwoz and DU have been a heck of a hockey team for as long as I have had a TV. This firing will hurt the program for a while. Recruits will go elsewhere, kids will leave earlier then expected and it will take a while to rebuilt what the DU admin just blew up. This will also hurt the NCHC unless Gwozdecky gets a coaching job in the NCHC. I could see Blais finding room for him at Omaha to take over for him when he retires. I could be completely wrong as well. Either way DU just took a big step back and hope for the sake of hockey they can right the ship some how.