Hockey: Uteck vows to take husband's name off Huskies fundraiser

If you are reading this at midnight on a Friday, chances are you were here already and saw the post about Saint Mary's scrapping women's hockey. Let us skip directly to the relevant parts of the latest update:
Halifax city councillor Sue Uteck, the wife of the late Larry Uteck who was the football coach and athletic director at SMU for many years, was livid at the news the women's hockey team was falling under the axe.

"That women's hockey program was his pride and joy to get off the ground and put it to where it was today," she said. "To me, this is a fundamentally wrong decision."

Uteck said the decision had not yet been ratified by the university's board of governors and that she was going to exert pressure to get the program reinstated.

"My husband has a golf tournament in his honour, the Larry Uteck Golf Classic, and that raises money for student athletes as Saint Mary's," she said. "I'm not just alumnus. I give a huge amount of time and dollars to Saint Mary's in the form of fundraising.

"I will be removing his name from that tournament. That hockey team was his pride and joy."
Saint Mary's AD Steve Sarty is quoted saying it is "awful" this came to pass. None of us are so simple to be looking for a villain. There is just no getting past believing this was done because it's an easy cut. It also leaves Saint Mary's with exactly zero full-time coaches who are women, which would seem to be a microcosm of the Canadian zeitgeist (we've gone from seventh to 25th in the world in gender equity since around 2006). It is not not gender equity when 60% of varsity athletes are male at a university whose enrolment is 65% female, as graduating SMU defender Seyara Shwetz argued:
Saint Mary’s University is composed of a 65% female presence in the student body. However, we only have 110 female varsity positions available to women athletes, where as men have 165 positions available. Our Head Coach, Lisa Jordan, was the only full-time female head coach at SMU; she was also the only coach with experience at the National Level.
The point is the obvious. This flies in the face of fairness, gender equity and sustainability. It is also ironic that with this all being provincially mandated, the ones who suffer are the women's hockey team (with 13 of 23 players from Atlantic Canada) and not the Huskies football team (17 of 82). One urges Saint Mary's to see the big picture instead of seeing 23 young women as a line item.

Saint Mary's University Women's Team Terminated (Seyara Shwetz, Women's Hockey Life)
University cites funding crunch in cutting women's hockey (Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press)
Saint Mary's U cutting women's hockey (Rachel Brady, The Globe & Mail)
SMU sends the wrong message (Chris Cochrane, Halifax Chronicle-Herald)
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  1. People who follow Halifax politics know that no one can grandstand like Sue Uteck. Here she has the added benefit of being absolutely right.

  2. "The hockey team had the highest annual operational budget of all women's varsity teams at $60,000, and according to Sarty, brought in negligible revenue."

    They really snuck the word "women's" in there, didn't they? I assume there are men's teams at SMU with higher operational budgets...

  3. A little bit of the human side of things as opposed to "numbers written down on paper".

    More females at SMU paying tuition then men, that's a number that was ignored.

    Rob, good catch, I would call that propaganda.


  5. Dave Hodge, TSN: My thumb is down to Saint Mary's University in Halifax for its decision to discontinue the women's hockey program. I know that victims of a budget crunch are never easy to select, but if Saint Mary's had to pick one team to bite the dust, it might have picked the wrong one. A hockey team might have been wrong - a women's team might have been wrong. And the women's hockey team that was the pride and joy of the late and much-admired former athletic director Larry Uteck - this according to his wife sue who's a prominent local politician - that might have been the wrong team. And any team of any kind might have been wrong when the university said its alternative was to trim the budgets of all the teams representing Saint Mary's. Yes, that might have been the right move.

  6. According to the CBC, SMU has "paused" their decision to shut down the women's hockey team.

  7. Tuesday on my radio show we will be talking about the SMU women's hockey situation exclusively. On the show will be Sue Uteck, Steve Sarty, Lisa Jordan, Leslie Jordan, Seyara Shwetz, Lairen McCusker, and Isabelle Germain. The show is 10:30 Atlantic on (click listen live) or on 88.1 FM if you're fortunate enough to be living in Halifax. Hope you can join us.