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Vermont fires men's hockey coach Woodcroft over 'inappropriate' text messages

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Vermont has fired men's hockey coach Todd Woodcroft over what were described as inappropriate text messages with a student.

Woodcroft was fired Tuesday following an internal investigation by the university's Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity, athletic director Jeff Schulman said in a statement.

“The specific conduct leading to the investigation involved inappropriate text messages with a UVM student on multiple occasions that failed to maintain professional boundaries,” the statement said.

A voicemail was left with a listed number for Woodcroft.

His attorney disputed the investigation's findings.

“We vehemently disagree with the process and the findings of a proceeding that lacked fundamental fairness and due process,” Andrew Miltenberg said in an email. “We strongly believe the University’s decision was contrary to the facts and the law. We intend to pursue justice for Mr. Woodcroft, who has been an outstanding coach and community advocate for over two decades.”

The investigation was prompted by a complaint that came into the athletic department in March, Schulman said at a news conference Wednesday. It was referred to the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity.

Woodcroft was not placed on leave at that time but was told not to have any contact with students involved in the investigation and to work from home, he said.

Citing student privacy, he said he could not provide details about the texts, but did say there were no other allegations or indications of anything inappropriate beyond the texts.

“The athletic department has very high standards and expectations of our coaches and of our staff,” he said. “That's particularly true for head coaches who have a special responsibility just given the visibility of their roles as mentors and role models for our student athletes.”

Woodcroft had a 20-55-9 record in three seasons with the Catamounts, including 11-20-5 (5-16-3 Hockey East) last season. He also has NHL experience as an assistant coach with the Winnipeg Jets and as a scout with several teams including the Calgary Flames and Los Angeles Kings.

Assistant Steve Wiedler has been named interim head coach.