WCHA commissioner receives cheers, no jeers after charges

This Friday, WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod will finally speak up. Until now, the former Minnesota-Duluth athletics director has been mum on the recent allegations and charges that he scammed $20,000 from the school and deposited those funds into a private account.
He hasn’t been the only quiet one. Duluth police have declined comment until further investigation. And the St. Louis County attorney, who will hear McLeod’s plea Oct. 18, has so far been silent.
McLeod is a favorite in the college hockey scene. He’s been at UMD for 31 years. When the shocking allegations came down last August, it wasn’t long before McLeod stepped down from his post at UMD. But he remains WCHA commissioner.
On Friday, the commish will make his first appearance in court. He probably won’t say much, and the case will likely go to trial.
While McLeod has had pucks stuffed in his jaw, those within the WCHA have said a mouthful. In an Oct. 3 article in the Duluth News-Tribune, several prominent WCHA honchos publicly supported the commish, despite the nasty allegations.
“I hope the WCHA stands behind our leader,” Minnesota-Duluth coach Mike Sertich said.
“We need him. College hockey needs him,” Northern Michigan AD Rick Comley said.
This is truly disappointing. Here we have a guy who allegedly stole money from his own college, yet his buddies have all but condoned his actions.
This mentality has blossomed in today’s sporting world. When a convicted rapist like Mike Tyson can become a millionaire overnight and a spineless, crybaby baseball player like Roberto Alomar can spit in an umpire’s face without penalty, why shouldn’t McLeod be exempt?
No, McLeod hasn’t been convicted of anything. However, the commish may have said it all — without even opening his mouth.
Recently, the commish returned over $18,000 to UMD, funds that were also suspiciously deposited into a home equity account in the commish’s name. Because of a deadline to press charges, those funds won’t be considered with the three counts of felony the commish has hanging over his head.
McLeod has served the WCHA well. No doubt. He has been instrumental in getting the conference more national exposure. He also adjusted the rules so a higher quality of game is played by schools like Minnesota.
But it is bothersome to see his confidants be so quick to support him in these allegations. Why didn’t the coaches of the WCHA get a taste of bile in their gut when heard the charges? Does the commish mean so much to the conference that we should all overlook the fact that he may have been skimming funds from a public learning environment?
Because the commish is the commish, it’s hard to say what action — if any — will be taken once the court decides his fate.
But it’s clear that if he is convicted, he cannot be supported any longer. High power athletes, like Tyson, and officials, like McLeod, have to be held accountable. We’re not talking about actions that take place on the playing surface.
These are real crimes perpetrated by people to whom we look up. The only reason why we give a damn about them to begin with is because they’re in the public eye. When people like the commish take actions to jeopardize our trust, they must be penalized.
And what’s worse, when there are people like Sertich and Comley who support guys like the commish, the coaches become an even larger problem.
With Friday looming, the commish may be planning on the worst. He just put his Duluth home up for sale. Now that says it all.