Mel Pearson stands in the box next to the ice rink behind glass, looking to the side.
The Daily breaks down the results of WilmerHale's investigation into the Michigan hockey program and its coach, Mel Pearson. Allison Enkgvist/Daily. Buy this photo.

After a season filled with both accolades and controversies, Mel Pearson’s future with the Michigan hockey team remains uncertain.

Pearson’s original five-year contract expired April 30, and no extension has been announced. While not having a new contract does not guarantee the end of Pearson’s employment as head coach, it raises significant questions as to why a new agreement was not reached.

In an interview prior to the Wolverines’ second Frozen Four in his tenure, Pearson told The Daily that he wanted to coach at Michigan next season. While Pearson could still sign an extension before the start of the 2022-23 season, it is unusual for a coach of his caliber and pedigree to see their contract expire without a new deal on the table, especially when they showed public interest in a renewal.

The contract expiration coincides with an investigation into Pearson’s conduct as coach, which includes allegations of toxic workplace culture inside the Michigan hockey program, discrimination against women, retaliation against a student athlete and that Pearson encouraged athletes to lie on COVID-19 contact tracing forms.

Parts of that investigation conducted by the University’s Equity, Civil Rights and Title IX Office should have concluded around April 26, but that deadline — set by the University’s sexual and gender-based misconduct policies — is not absolute.

No official announcement of the investigation’s outcome has been made. If Pearson’s employment as head coach ends, the investigation can be closed and dismissed according to those same policies.

While Pearson’s future with the Wolverines remains unknown, the direction of the Michigan hockey program hangs in the balance until a new head coach is named or a late contract extension is announced.

After adding multiple highly ranked recruits and returning key players like defenseman Luke Hughes and goaltender Erik Portillo, Michigan looks like it has all the pieces for a successful season.

Right now, the only one missing is who will be in charge.