Niagara Gazette

September 20, 2013

Mroziak: NU taking a risk with its silence

Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — That certainly wasn’t a phone call I expected.

It came around 4 p.m. Wednesday. I was at home and in the midst of my typical afternoon routine: check my kids’ homework, start plotting the next morning’s edition, wash up and get ready to head into the office. Then came the call from a contact at Niagara University and a conversation that caught me off guard.

It was the news that Tom Crowley is out as the school’s Athletic Director, less than a year after his hire.

As we reported in yesterday’s edition, the school is offering no comment as to why they’ve made the change. (A side note, although my contact at NU was identified in at least one other report, between us we had a gentlemen’s agreement not to drop names, so I’m holding to that).

What he explained to me was, simply, “we felt it just wasn’t a good fit.” 

Perhaps that’s all it is. When the honeymoon was over, after Crowley’s public introduction last October, maybe they realized they had the wrong guy after all.

It certainly didn’t help to see longtime basketball coach Joe Mihalich leave on his watch, taking two top players with him to Hofstra. Nor did a controversial coaching change in the softball program. It also doesn’t help when the fall programs are off to losing starts, in some cases still seeking their first win.

Further explained to me in my conversation Wednesday was that officials were trying to handle this matter delicately so that both sides could have a clean break and move forward. 

I fully respect that position. However, there’s a risk to staying silent and it’s starting to show. Whether it’s media peers talking amongst themselves or people with ties to NU posting on message boards, some are questioning whether there was something more sinister happening that warranted a change. 

I’m not going to get involved with unfair, possibly baseless and potentially damaging speculation. At the same time, I too wonder what’s going on and what happens next.

Niagara is perfectly within its rights to keep this quiet but it should appreciate the risk. If this is simply a case of an AD and a university discovering they were oil and water, as indicated, it might not hurt to say that publicly, even if it’s just a brief statement.

It might actually be a huge favor to the man whose dignity they’re trying to keep intact.

You can follow Niagara Gazette Sports Editor Michael Mroziak on Twitter at @MrozGazette.