USHL releases findings of Omaha Lancers investigation
Investigation was led by Scott Gray, a member of USA Hockey SafeSport Taskforce
The United States Hockey League released the results of a third-party investigation that was launched into the Omaha Lancers after reports on Nov. 18 regarding the organization.
The investigation began on Nov. 20 and was conducted by Scott Gray, a member of the USA Hockey SafeSport Taskforce and a licensed private investigator. In a news release, the USHL said that Gray interviewed about 20 individuals including current and former Lancers coaches, staff, players and ownership to review allegations.
A full report of the the findings including copies of e-mails and text messages provided by interviewees, the release said.
The findings include that Lancers management had established a solid basis of cause to remove Chadd Cassidy as the team's head coach. Cassidy ultimately stepped down, despite the team getting off to an 8-4-2 start. In the release, the USHL said that "documented communications shows that a group of players approached team president Dave Deluca in October to ask for a new coach."
The investigation findings also "illustrated that meals and equipment were provided to players in compliance with USHL Tier I standards. Additionally, the narrative that the Lancers were taking advantage of volunteer labor for their equipment manager position was dispelled."
Assistant coach Sean Walsh
The investigation determined that former Lancers assistant coach Sean Walsh "introduced to players the idea of not playing during the weekend of Nov. 18. Players indicated that they were told by Walsh that if they chose to boycott, he would send out press releases to various news publications. Players also reported that they felt pressured by Walsh to agree to the boycott."
Pittsburgh bus trip
The release said "media reports suggesting that the overtime driving of the bus from Pittsburgh to Omaha was attributable to the Lancers trying to cut costs were false. Upon learning their regular bus company was unavailable for that trip, the Lancers contacted another vendor which subcontracted the chartered bus service. While on the return trip from Pittsburgh to Omaha, Lancers personnel inquired about when the driver change would occur. They were informed that no second driver was scheduled, which was the decision of the charter company. An inquiry was made to the charter company and subsequently a complaint was filed."
A disciplinary hearing occurred on Dec. 15 to fully resolve this matter and bring it to a close, the release said. "As part of the resolution, the USHL is working with the Lancers and affected teams to reschedule games that were missed on Nov. 18-20." The investigative report has been shared with USA Hockey.
"We are satisfied that this matter has been fully and thoroughly investigated to its fullest extent through a neutral third party," USHL president and commissioner Bill Robertson said in the release. "Many initial reports from the media have been proven to be unsubstantiated and we are pleased to have the full knowledge of Gray's investigation to assist in next and final steps in resolving issues raised in the investigative findings."
Omaha is 13-6-2-1 overall and in third place in the Western Conference standings. The Lancers are ninth in the 16-team league in attendance, averaging 1,693 per home game. The Lancers have won the USHL's Clark Cup as the league's playoff championship seven times and won the Anderson Cup as the league's regular season champion five times.
Gary Graham was named the team's head coach on Nov. 18. Graham was a coach for the Fort Wayne Komets from 2009-19. He coached the Indy Jr. Fuel 16-and-under AAA team in the North American Prospects League in 2020-21 and had been coaching that organization's 18-and-under team this season before being named the Lancers coach.
Josh Dubinsky is the team's assistant coach on the Lancers website. Walsh resigned on Nov. 14 after being named acting head coach.