SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Rick Bennett, the winningest men’s hockey head coach in Union’s history, has resigned his position, effective immediately, Athletic Director Jim McLaughlin announced Friday following a weeklong investigation. Bennett was placed on administrative leave on Jan. 20 after the college received an allegation about Bennett’s coaching style and practices that the college says were substantiated through an internal investigation.
“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.”
When pressed about the specifics of the allegation against Bennett at a press conference on Friday, McLaughlin said, “This is obviously a personnel matter and we can’t share the details of the investigation.”
“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.”
Assistant Coach John Ronan has been named interim head coach and will lead the team for the remainder of the current season.
News10 obtained the first interview with Bennett. He addressed the team at 2 p.m. on Friday to inform them of his decision. “It was a tough conversation,” said Bennett. “The toughest news to give, but at the same time I’m at peace.”
As his coaching practices come under fire, Bennett discussed his coaching style. “My style is you know, It’s tough but fair,” said Bennett. “Demanding but not demeaning and that’s what I keep hearing about my style.”
You’d be hard-pressed to find a coach who ends their career without regrets. Those regrets are minimal for Bennett. “Did I make mistakes? Absolutely,” Bennett said. “I’m far from perfect, I understand that. I always held myself accountable and I’ll feel good. I feel good.”
Under Bennett, the Dutchmen reached new heights. He piloted the program to a national championship in the 2013-14 season, two Frozen Four appearances, four NCAA Tournament berths, three Whitelaw Cups, and three Cleary Cups.
He compiled six 20-win seasons and two losing seasons during his 11-year tenure at the helm. Bennett took the reigns in 2011 after serving as an assistant coach with the Dutchmen for six years, including four seasons as the associate head coach under predecessor Nate Leaman.
“Well I’d like to think it wasn’t all bad,” Bennett said. “And that you left the place just a little bit better.”