The WilmerHale investigation report into the Wolverines’ program has finally been disclosed after looming over the Michigan hockey team this offseason.
On Tuesday, journalist and former University lecturer John U. Bacon disclosed details of the report he received. He claimed instances of harassment and bullying within the program, with both support staffers and players at the receiving end of that treatment. While Bacon detailed the findings, the official report has not yet been released to the public.
Numerous instances of harassment were reported by Bacon. Former Director of Hockey Operations Rick Bancroft, who retired in June, allegedly harassed an athletics secretary, a nutritionist and the team’s information director. Bacon claims the report says that Michigan coach Mel Pearson did not act to stop that treatment and let it continue for years. Bacon also said that the investigators listed multiple instances of Pearson lying about issues within the investigation.
Additionally, Bacon reported that former Michigan goaltender Strauss Mann left the Wolverines because he felt that Pearson would sabotage his career after he and other seniors raised concerns about the program’s culture. Mann signed to play professionally in Sweden in July 2021.
Allegations that the Wolverines were encouraged by Pearson to lie on COVID-19 contact tracing were also included, but fewer details have emerged. Michigan had to forfeit a Fargo Regional semifinal game in 2021 after positive COVID-19 tests.
The report was conducted in response to a formal complaint filed by former player development director and goaltending coach Steve Shields, as reported by Bacon and confirmed by The Athletic.
With the results of the report unveiled, Michigan Athletics Director Warde Manuel has to decide whether Pearson should keep his job as head coach. His contract expired on May 1, and he has been working as the Wolverines’ head coach without a contract since then.
Whether he will keep performing those duties has yet to be announced.