Union College Split With Bennett Seemed To Miss The Net
As a Division I college administrator for nearly two decades, I know better than to judge a situation based on a press release. Friday, Rick Bennett "resigned" his position as head men's ice hockey coach, effective immediately at Union College. Bennett had been on paid-administrative leave since January 20th, as a result of an allegation.
I have never watched Coach Bennett run a practice. I have seen his intense game style that led the Union College Dutchman to their only National Championship in 2014. I met Bennett several times at different events through the years and always found him to be an intelligent engaging individual. People that I trust that know Coach Bennett like and respect him.
That's why this move by Union, initially made me scratch my head. According to the college press release, "Athletic Director Jim McLaughlin '93 announced Coach Bennett's resignation. It follows an allegation about his coaching style and practices that was substantiated through an investigation by the College. "Coach Bennett has been synonymous with Union hockey over the past 17 years and has built a program of which we all can be proud," McLaughlin said. "This resolution is the best path forward for both Coach Bennett and our men's hockey program. Our number one priority is to fully support our student-athletes." Jim McLaughlin is spot on, the number one priority for any college athletics administrator is supporting the student-athletes.
Unfortunately, as McLaughlin said, something happened and it was substantiated, most likely involving some student-athlete or athletes. It is easy to step over the line these days with the NCAA when it comes to student-athlete welfare. Coaching practices are held to a different standard in 2022, than even a decade ago. Tough, hard-nose coaches are becoming a thing of the past, unless they are good at toeing an ever-moving line. I am not saying or speculating that is what happened in this case, I am just relating experience.
"I arrived at this decision because I felt it is in the best interest of Union College hockey. That has always been at the forefront of my thoughts," Bennett said. "I wish the program all the best this season and in the future." I don't know what Rick Bennett did. I do know that as a former college athletics administrator that sometimes people that you like and respect, do things that are determined as "jeopardizing the well-being of student-athlete." This is when coaches can lose their job. Sometimes it's subjective, other times it's not. Personally, I wish Rick and the Union hockey program the best in moving on and moving forward. I hope that Bennett gets another shot to win a second National Championship. Most times, coaches like Rick get that opportunity and make the most of it. Assistant Coach John Ronan has been named interim head coach and will lead the team for the remainder of the current season.