By Andrew Yourell, Staff Writer
In December 2013, the UNH athletics department decided to fire long-time women’s hockey coach Brian McCloskey after a physical altercation with a player occurred on the team’s bench mid-game. Seacoastonlinereported Wednesday that McCloskey admitted to the simple assault charge placed on him by the Strafford County Attorney’s office.
The student-athlete who was the victim of the incident gave statements that, after meeting with McCloskey on Tuesday, led the prosecutors to identify the incident as assault. Teammates also gave statements that corroborated the victim’s testimony, as did other staff members and video footage of the altercation.
The physical contact was reported initially as the student-athlete swearing at McCloskey, who then grabbed the player’s jersey and pulled her down on the bench while swearing back at her.
“McCloskey knowingly caused unprivileged physical contact to the student-athlete by grabbing her jersey, pulling her, and causing her to land with her back on the bench,” read Seacoastonline report, using a press release from the county attorney’s office.
The assault led UNH Director of Athletics Marty Scarano to fire McCloskey after an investigation into the altercation, ending the coach’s 12-year career at the helm of UNH women’s hockey.
McCloskey was four-time coach of the year in Hockey East during his tenure as head coach and compiled a 252-113-40 record.
“McCloskey’s characterization of the exchange: ‘An adult telling a young adult, ‘This is not acceptable’ in a very firm way.’ But the college had a different view, calling it ‘inappropriate physical contact with a player on the bench’— and a firing offense,” said a Boston Globe article published Feb. 17, 2014, shortly after the firing.
The incident made regional headlines as it raised questions regarding old-school coaching methods that sometimes cross a line.
The team is currently 8-18-1 under first-year head coach Hilary Witt, and assistant coach Stephanie Jones is listed on the Wildcats’ website as the lone holdover from last year’s paid coaching staff.
Part of Wednesday’s press release by the county attorney’s office included the news that he had reached a diversion deal with prosecutors. If McCloskey meets the terms of the agreement, the charges against him will be dismissed. The terms include good behavior for a period of one year, enrollment in counseling and completion of 100 hours of community service.