Apologetic Woog briefly suspended

Michael Rand

Gone was the wise-cracking, jovial Doug Woog whose good humor permeates most post-game press conferences.
In his place was a somber, toned-down Woog who apologized several times for letting his team, his fans and his school down.
With Woog at his side, Minnesota men’s athletics director Mark Dienhart announced at a press conference on Monday that the University is suspending the Gophers coach for one week and taking away one scholarship from the hockey team next season because of an NCAA rules violation that occurred in 1994.
“I made a mistake. Sometimes that’s all you can say,” Woog said. “I’m sorry.”
During the spring of 1994, Woog gave former player Chris McAlpine $500 to help him finish his education. McAlpine had used up his eligibility and indicated he would turn pro in the spring.
But when McAlpine’s professional hockey plans fell through, he returned to school for spring quarter. Because it appeared McAlpine wouldn’t be back, the hockey program did not have a scholarship available for him in the spring.
When Woog gave non-University money to a player, he committed an NCAA violation.
“There is going to be a segment of people out there that will say this had to be done to help that kid,” Woog said. “But I know the rules. I broke one. I don’t want to justify it.”
Dienhart said he learned of the incident last week after it was reported to compliance coordinator Chris Schoemann. Upon learning of the situation, Dienhart met with Woog and contacted the NCAA.
The department followed the NCAA’s recommendations in its punishment of Woog and will file a report with the NCAA within the next couple of weeks after the University’s ongoing internal investigation of the hockey program is complete.
In addition to the suspension and loss of a scholarship, Woog will also be required to attend an NCAA rules seminar. He will not be paid during his suspension and cannot communicate with players or coaches. Assistant coach Mike Guentzel will assume head coaching duties for the Gophers’ series at Minnesota-Duluth this weekend.
Woog said he thought the department’s punishment was fair and justified.
Woog and Dienhart, who are friends, appeared to be troubled most on a personal level. Woog was very emotional, particularly when he described having to tell his team of the suspension Monday afternoon.
“It was very hard for me to say this because I love the guys,” he said. “That’s my family.”
Dienhart said he was disappointed that he had to confront Woog with news of the violation.
“Your trust and faith is shaken,” he said after the press conference. “Those are issues I still have to deal with.”