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For the first time in 40 years, Boston University is in the market for a hockey coach. On Monday, Jack Parker announced that he will retire at the end of this season.
Parker guided Boston University to national titles in 1978, 1995 and 2009. The 68-year-old will leave the game as No. 3 on the NCAA men's hockey career wins list with 894 to date. The rink at Agganis Arena, the team's home, bears his name.
Sitting at a table with BU President Robert Brown and Assistant Vice President and Director of Athletics Mike Lynch, Parker on Monday addressed a crowd of his family members, current and former players, and reporters.
"It's time. I've been coaching the team for 40 years. I've been a coach here for 44 years," Parker said. "I was player here before that, so for 48 out of the last 49 years I've been reporting for duty for BU hockey. That's enough."
Last fall, BU stripped Parker of his title of executive director of athletics after a university task force investigated the hockey program. Two players had been charged with sexual assault, and the task force found "a culture of sexual entitlement." Its report detailed a 2009 championship celebration by players at the Agganis Arena which included drinking, naked skating and sex in the penalty box.
Parker said he'd considered retiring last year, but wanted to end his career on a more positive note.
"It was tough, but it was good to get through it. I'm glad we're through it. We've incorporated the stuff that the task force has asked us to do. We were doing a lot of it already," Parker said. "We've implemented the other things. And I think our program is better off for it — and I know our program is better off for it. And I'm proud of the way my team handled it all, to tell you the truth."
Among the former players on hand for the announcement was Mike Eruzione, who played for Parker in the late 1970s.
"If it wasn't for Jack Parker I never would have ended up going to Boston University, so that was huge," Eruzione said. "He found me in the summer leagues when I was going to Merrimack College, which was a Division II school at the time."
Eruzione went on to lead the U.S. to gold in the 1980 Olympics. Today he's BU's director of special outreach.
"If I never had gone to BU, I never would have got to the Olympic team, I wouldn't be where I am today," he said. "I owe everything in my life to Jack. He not only was my coach [and] many times a father figure, but he's also a friend."
Parker says he'll be involved in the national search for his replacement, but won't have the final say. One of the candidates is Mike Bavis, the Terriers' associate coach, who's a longtime Parker staff member and a former BU player.
"I certainly am very confident that I could coach this team and lead it to certainly the place that BU hockey expects and wants, and the fanbase [wants] — a chance to win national championships," Bavis said. "There's certainly a lot of good coaches in the BU family and there'll be a process like there should be and we'll see how it goes."
Parker's retirement from coaching will not end his career at BU. He has accepted a job to help raise funds for the university's capital campaign. Parker says he'll be on campus, but won't be hovering over his replacement.
"You know, I'll come to the games and I'll enjoy the games. I think my wife will enjoy them much more now than she ever has," he said, drawing laughs from the crowd.
But Parker's final season isn't over yet. The Terriers open a best-of-three series in the Hockey East tournament at home against Merrimack Friday night.
Doug Tribou covers sports for Only A Game. This post was updated with the Morning Edition feature version.
This program aired on March 11, 2013.
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