Alaska-Anchorage AD Cobb ousted, calls university president ‘mentally ill’

Alaska-Anchorage announced Wednesday that chancellor athletic director Steve Cobb has been removed from his position, effective immediately.

As an officer of the university, Dr. Cobb serves at will on six months’ notice.

“Dr. Cobb’s legacy at UAA includes a number of remarkable achievements of which we are all proud,” said UAA chancellor Tom Case in a statement. “However, it has become clear in recent days that despite his efforts, Steve will not be able to bring all elements of the public together in support of UAA and that criticism of Steve has become a distraction from the great work that UAA does every day. Though it’s necessary for us to move ahead under new leadership in Seawolf athletics, Dr. Cobb’s outstanding contributions to our student-athletes, the community and to Seawolf Nation have been unprecedented.”

Cobb, in a statement to the Anchorage Daily News, called University of Alaska president Patrick Gamble “mentally ill.”

“When you give away the university to [lobbyist to have Cobb fired] Ashley Reed and a few local scoundrels, you are by definition insane and I intend to prove it in court,” said Cobb in the statement. “Gamble made the decision to fire me without speaking to one employee of the UAA athletic department, not one staff member, not one coach, not one student-athlete and certainly not me. Apparently, Ashley Reed is the final authority.

“I am suffering secondary embarrassment for the university that I loved and devoted almost thirteen years of my life.”

During Cobb’s tenure, UAA produced 210 All-American athletes, 121 Academic All-American athletes, 15 conference championships and nine NCAA West Region titles.

Senior associate athletic director Tim McDiffett will serve as acting athletic director until an interim is named and a search committee is formed for Cobb’s replacement.

Regarding the investigation into a 2011 incident between then-hockey coach Dave Shyiak and Nick Haddad, Case mentioned it in the statement.

“The police have now concluded all interviews,” Case said. “Although a final report is not yet complete and consistent with the alleged victim’s position, I have been assured by police that the investigation found no basis for recommending criminal charges against Coach Shyiak or anyone else. I am particularly pleased that there was no evidence of intimidation of players and that the investigation confirmed that AD Cobb did in fact conduct a good faith review of the allegations at the time.

“In hindsight, it may have been more appropriate to have simply referred the matter to police at the time. However, Dr. Cobb concluded that the allegation was overstated, as has proven to be the case. Nevertheless, UAA takes seriously the need for students and student-athletes to feel safe at UAA and we will redouble our efforts to ensure that all students and employees understand reporting procedures for safety-related issues.”