March 10, 2013

BU coach Parker reportedly set to announce retirement

By Andy Merritt

Jack Parker's Terriers made it four years and counting without a Beanpot title in February. (Dave Arnold Photography)

Boston University men’s hockey coach Jack Parker will announce his retirement Monday after 40 seasons behind the Terriers’ bench, according to reports Sunday night.

ESPN’s John Buccigross broke the news via his Twitter feed on Sunday night, saying ESPN has “learned Jack Parker will announce his retirement tomorrow after 40 years as Head Coach of Boston University.”

Comcast Sports Net’s Joe Haggerty later tweeted that a source close to Parker confirmed the coach’s plans later Sunday night. BU officials could not confirm the news, but senior assistant director of Athletic Communications Brian Kelley said a press conference has been scheduled for 3 p.m. at BU.

It is also unclear whether Parker’s retirement would take effect immediately, or after the Terriers’ season ends. BU, the third seed in the Hockey East tournament, hosts sixth seed Merrimack in a best-of-3 quarterfinal series beginning Friday. 

If the reports hold true, Parker will be ending one of the most prolific and decorated careers in college hockey history. Over his 40 years at BU, he has compiled an 894-471-115 record, putting him third all-time among college coaches. His Terriers have won three NCAA titles, 21 Beanpots and seven Hockey East titles, as well as four ECAC titles before they joined Hockey East as a charter member in 1983. His 894 wins are the most by any college coach at a single institution.

Parker has won the Spencer Penrose Memorial Trophy as the nation’s top college coach three times, and he is a seven-time New England Coach of the Year and five-time Hockey East Coach of the Year. He was inducted into the BU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Beanpot Hall of Fame a year later.

Under Parker, the Terriers have been a perennial power, winning 20 or more games in 26 of his 40 seasons. They have been considered at least a challenger for the Hockey East title every year since the league was formed, and have won 21 Beanpots — far more than any other Beanpot team during Parker’s tenure.

Parker, who turns 68 years old Monday, has seen his health and the reputation of his team decline in recent years. He has undergone multiple heart surgeries, most recently during the 2010 offseason. Meanhwile, BU’s stature as one of the model teams in college hockey has been tarnished multiple times since its last national championship victory, in 2009.

Multiple players have run afoul of the law over the last few years, and several have either been dismissed from the team or left it voluntarily. Last summer, following the legal troubles of Corey Trivino and Max Nicastro, the school ordered a study of the culture surrounding the hockey team. The results, and their fallout, were damning: a “culture of entitlement” was found among the hockey team, and tales of raucous partying and sexual promiscuity sullied the image of the team and school. Among the ugliest parts of the report was a finding that a raunchy party took place following the 2009 championship, with players returning to Agganis Arena to drink and have sex in the team’s facilities, including the penalty box.

As a result, Parker was stripped of his associate athletic director title, which he had held since 2002.

Parker was hired as BU’s 10th coach on Dec. 21, 1973. His hiring followed a highly successful career as a BU player. During his three years with the varsity, the Terriers went 72-22-4, won three consecutive Beanpots and made two appearances in the national tournament. Parker was the captain his senior year, and he scored 14 goals and 11 assists.

Parker also has coached 23 players who went on to play in the Olympics, including Mike Eruzione, Dave Silk, Jack O’Callahan and Jim Craig from the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” U.S. team that shocked the Soviet Union and Finland to win the first American Olympic hockey gold since 1960. Parker’s teams have produced a plethora of NHL players, as well as two Hobey Baker winners in Matt Gilroy (2009) and Chris Drury (1998).

Parker was born March 11, 1945, and graduated from Catholic Memorial High School in 1963. He is married to the former Jacqueline Gibson of Wellesley, Mass., and has two daughters — Allison and Jacqueline — and three grandsons: Jake, Shane and Ryan.

Andy Merritt can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @a_merritt.