While the workplace misconduct investigation of the Michigan hockey program is ongoing, one of the parties named in the complaints will no longer work for the University.
Rick Bancroft, director of hockey operations for the Wolverines, retired from Michigan Athletics effective June 20. According to MLive, the retirement removes a key subject of the investigation from the department before any final report has been released.
When asked to comment on Tuesday, Michigan Athletics confirmed that Bancroft had retired and added that the position had not been posted for hiring yet. No further details were given.
Bancroft’s retirement may have occurred during the investigation, but it remains unknown whether prior plans were in place for his departure. An employment document, obtained by The Michigan Daily through the Freedom of Information Act, showed that Bancroft’s employment was evaluated on an annual basis, with no contractual obligation to serve a specific tenure. Bancroft, who has worked at the University since 1991, signed the agreement when he became director of hockey operations prior to the 2018-19 season.
However, the ongoing investigation into the Wolverines complicates the optics of the employment move. The investigation, conducted by WilmerHale and following Michigan’s Equity, Title IX and Civil Rights Office policies, includes Bancroft and Michigan coach Mel Pearson in its allegations. Specifically, Bancroft was accused of creating a toxic work environment for female staff and of knowing about Dr. Robert Anderson’s sexual misconduct.
While the final report from WilmerHale should be nearing completion, Bancroft’s departure could complicate its release. Under the University’s employee sexual and gender-based misconduct policy, an investigation may be closed at any time if a respondent is no longer employed by Michigan.
“In addition to the dismissal of allegations of Title IX Misconduct, the Title IX Coordinator may, in their discretion, dismiss a formal complaint of prohibited conduct, and/or otherwise close an investigation if at any time … the respondent is no longer employed by the University,” Page 16 of the University’s policy reads.
Under the University’s policy, if the sexual and gender-based misconduct investigation were to be closed, no appeal could be made to reopen it. The current progress of the investigation could determine whether that could occur, but no indication will be given until the report is released. No matter what, Bancroft’s retirement complicates the resolution’s timeline.
How the investigation plays out remains uncertain. The future of Bancroft’s role with Michigan, however, does not.