Minnesota Head Coach Suspended

Minnesota today suspended hockey coach Doug Woog and pulled one scholarship from the program for Woog’s role in obtaining cash to help a former player pay tuition expenses after his eligibility had ended.

The decision was announced by men’s athletics director Mark Dienhart at an early-evening news conference at Mariucci Arena.

Dienhart said Woog gave Chris McAlpine $500 in 1994 to put towards spring quarter tuition during his senior year. He also said the University has reported the NCAA rules violation to the national association.

In a St. Paul Pioneer Press report today, unnamed sources contend the money was not Woog’s and was not given by anyone affiliated with the university. McAlpine reportedly was given the cash after changing his mind about signing a professional contract in favor of completing his senior year of classes. By that time, however, McAlpine’s tuition money for the quarter had reportedly been allocated to another player.

In an emotional appearance before the media, Woog admitted to making an error and violating an NCAA rule. He expressed remorse for the attention he has brought to the university, his players and Dienhart, whom he called a friend. Woog says his decision to give the money to McAlpine happened quickly, was not premeditated and was not done with malice.

Specifically, these are the provisions of the university’s self-imposed penalties:

  • Woog will be suspended for at least one week, without pay.
  • The program’s scholarships will be reduced from 18 to 17 for the 1997-98 academic year.
  • Woog will be required to attend, at his expense, an NCAA rules seminar.

    The duration of the suspension could increase depending on the findings of the internal investigation. He will not be behind the bench for the team’s games at Minnesota-Duluth Friday and Saturday nights, and could miss games in the following weekend at Wisconsin. Those schools represent Minnesota’s biggest traditional rivals.

    During the suspension, Woog will not be allowed to have contact with his players or assistant coaches.

    Dienhart said the scope of the penalties was determined following consultation with the NCAA, which will conduct its own investigation into the matter. Dienhart said the penalties would have been much stiffer had the violation occurred while McAlpine had eligibility remaining.

    This is the first NCAA violation of significance by Woog, who Friday began his 12th season as Minnesota’s head coach. Last spring, however, he was suspended by the WCHA for abusing an official during the association’s playoff tournament.

    Associate head coach Mike Guentzel will coach the team during Woog’s absence.