Michigan splits with hockey coach Mel Pearson after misconduct allegations

Michigan officially parted ways with hockey coach Mel Pearson on Friday after allegations of misconduct, the school announced.

Pearson’s contract ended in May, and athletic director Warde Manuel said Friday that he chose not to renew it after an investigation.

"It has been determined that Mel Pearson will not return as our ice hockey coach," Manuel said in a statement. "This decision has been weighed heavily and for some time. We welcomed an independent third-party review into the climate and culture of our program before furthering our assessment in lockstep with campus leadership.

"Our student-athletes having a positive and meaningful experience is of paramount importance, and a clear expectation within our department is that all employees and staff are valued and supported. I deeply appreciate and value the many individuals who came forward throughout this review.

"Today's announcement reflects the seriousness with what we've heard and the values we hold dear at Michigan."

Pearson, in a lengthy report published earlier this year by The Athletic's Katie Strang, was accused of telling his players to provide false information on COVID-19 contact-tracing forms, misleading recruits about how much scholarship money they would receive and more. He allegedly called one player a "Jew," and displayed an "inability or unwillingness" to hold Rick Bancroft, their director of hockey operations, accountable after he allegedly mistreated female staff.

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Manuel did not say whether any of the allegations against him were proven true. He said earlier this year that they couldn’t “corroborate the allegations” regarding the COVID contact-tracing forms. Bancroft was described as “toxic,” “rude” and “unprofessional.” One female staff member said that both Pearson and Bancroft discriminated against her, stopped her from entering the locker room and excluded her from team activities and meals.

Pearson spent five seasons leading the Wolverines, and compiled a 99-65-16 overall record. Michigan went 31-10-1 last season and reached the Frozen Four. Pearson, per The Athletic, signed a five-year contract in 2018 that paid him a base salary of $350,000 annually. It expired in April, and he has been an at-will employee ever since.

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