It was announced this week that Andrea Neil got the job of UBC Head Coach. The road to her announcement was long and troublesome and included someone else getting named to the job prior to the initial call for applications being closed.
In a previous blog, I outlined my strong thoughts on the entirety of the situation: Click Here
What I find most interesting in the discussions following the aftermath of the decision to hire Neil (especially on twitter, which seems to be the central place for people to voice their opinion these days), that there is a curious distortion of the events that led up to Neil being hired and disturbing, untrue innuendo that is being spread in the reporting of the situation and the final decision that was made.
Namely people that are unhappy with Neil’s hiring, have wanted to lead the conversation into a male versus female dialogue, as opposed to what the problem in this situation was at its core: a first candidate being named with absolutely no due process or protocol. And that focus, is where the outrage should lie, and where the entirety of blame and reporting should fall; on the hands of a university that in its checks and balances failed miserably to provide a proper process for allowing a first candidate to be named without a deadline for applications closing. Further troubling was that this initial hiring process, based on reports, was led by one person, who made the decision on an initial candidate who she admittedly had a longtime working relationship with at Langara. This understandably would leave a strong insinuation of a reason for bias in the process, which is outrageous for a publicly funded institution.
What’s even more disappointing is the fact that this bias, rumour-reporting and desire to make the storyline a male v female affair instead of focusing on the shocking lack of initial due process is being spewed by some members of the sports media. These are people who we, as society expect to be unbiased and holding integrity and staying neutral through their reporting. It’s one thing for a regular member of society to voice an opinion with an agenda, baseless on facts, but quite another when mainstream journalists write with an obvious bias, having the privilege of an audience of hundreds of thousands. Because of this platform, their words are taken as truth and if they are not disseminated by a critical, informed mind, they leave a legacy of untruth in their wake, unfair to those that they are reporting on.
There was no more obvious of a clear agenda, or just plain uneducated reporting, than in a Friday article, on the front of the sports section written by Iain McIntyre in the normally reputable Vancouver Sun.
To read MacIntyre’s article: Click Here
On the other hand, for a far more balanced article, see Howard Tsumura’s version in the Province: Click Here
Subsequently, after reading MacIntyre’s article, I couldn’t help but think that it was better suited for a trashy gossip magazine, than respected mainstream journalism, and how grossly one-sided he presents the UBC hiring situation.
The tone of his article seemed to match some other members of the media on twitter (coincidentally or not, all-male) who seem determined to twist the facts of the situation and instead paint a story of Neil’s hiring, as one where UBC caved politically to a horde of feminists demanding a female coach, who united against a poor male victim, who was far more qualified, instead of what it was in actuality; a process that lacked so much integrity from the start to provide a fair and neutral platform to identify the best candidate, that it had to be done twice.
The real question I have is why some of the media seems to be so intent on taking underlying swings at Neil’s capabilities and credentials to lead the program, and making it a AN v MR or male v female dialogue, when the story really should be about how our supposed top university in the province could have bungled the process of the hiring so badly in the first place that they needed to have it rectified later on.
And let me state clearly that in my opinion, MR and AN are victims of the whole situation and the subsequent blame and questioning and dialogue should be focusing on hiring protocol at UBC as opposed to any other discussion since that is what is at the root of why this situation happened.
The below are problems that I have from the focus of McIntyre’s article and the dialogue that other members of the media seem to be determined to have painting the theme of the this situation as male victim (MR) to unqualified beneficiary to feminist outrage (AN).
The fact is that AN was hired after a proper process was taken the second time around.
This included a deadline for applications that passed and allowed for all qualified applicants to have an opportunity to apply, an interview process that included a smaller number of candidates, and a final decision being rendered by a committee that included a well-rounded group of 5 people, instead of one. This seems starkly more transparent and reliable than what occurred the first time.
Why that didn’t happen in the first place, is a question that only UBC can answer.
That being said, after the aforementioned second process, insinuating that Neil’s hire was not a case of the most quality candidate being chosen, is nothing short of derogatory and insulting to both the candidate chosen, as well as the group of people who had a chance to review all of the applications and chose who they felt was the best candidate for the position.
With all that being said, these are my issues with McIntyre’s article specifically, and why it seems curiously lacking neutrality in painting a picture of all the facts.
- The deadline for applications the first time around in the UBC job was listed until December 7, MR was announced as the head coach on December 6.
Important questions to ask: Isn’t it problematic for the idea of due process in hiring from a publicly funded university when a candidate is announced before the end of applications? Isn’t that an obvious reason as to why there would be the necessity to go through a second hiring process as happened in this situation?
- The article by McIntyre mentioned that the athletic director, Theresa Hansen was the primary person that chose MR as an initial candidate. The article also stated that the 2 were long time friends from their days at Langara. It went on to paint it as an outrage that “MR’s biggest supporter” was not included in the hiring committee the second time around
I think it is a fairly reasonable assertion that in a position that calls for a neutral assessment of candidates, that firstly there is not one person making the decision, and secondly, that those that are choosing the potential candidate don’t have a deep connection or previous relationship with any of those being interviewed.
Furthermore, any reasonable person would think that a committee of 4 or 5 people, picking a candidate from a pool of applicants that had time to get their applications in from an announced deadline would be a more reliable way to select a candidate, as opposed to one person choosing someone that they are friends with and known for a long time, before the call for candidates was over.
But maybe that’s just me.
- In McIntyre’s article he asserted, “The committee chose Neil, an accomplished player who was part of former Canadian national team coach Carolina Morace’s staff but has little head-coaching experience”
It was repeatedly alluded to in the article, that Neil was a great player, in a backhanded manner, the connotation that being a great player and a worthy coaching candidate are two mutually exclusive things. Therefore in McIntyre emphasizing this repeatedly seems to allude to the idea that the person initially hired was a far better candidate, making the idea of a conspiracy far more plausible.
There are two problems I have with this.
A) It is mentioned nowhere in the article, that in addition to having experience at the international level as a coach, Neil spent 6 weeks getting her UEFA A licence in Coverciano, one of the most recognized coaching institutions in soccer, with some of the top male coaches in the world.
Furthermore, the UEFA A License is recognized as the top coaching license in the world (higher than the CSA A license), the only higher license being the UEFA Pro License. It is extremely difficult to get accepted to take this license, and the fact that Neil was taken on in Italy and passed the license says a massive amount about what experts in the game think of her ability as a coach. It also makes her one of the most qualified coaches in the country, regardless of gender. I would say this would be a fairly important point to bring to the discussion that McIntyre seems to want to spark about if she was the most qualified candidate
B) It is very accepted and common in coaching circles for great players to go on and get head coaching positions directly from their playing days. Off the top of my head, one does not need to look much farther in the last decade, than Roy Keane who went directly to the coach of Sunderland in one of the top English leagues shortly after his playing days with Man U, as well as Maradona who led Argentina at the World Cup without any previous coaching experience at that level.
With that being said, Neil is more than experienced to take on a head coach role at a university, on the combination of her exemplary playing and coaching qualifications. To suggest otherwise is problematic, uneducated and derogatory.
-From McIntyre’s article “MR said he learned his initial hiring sparked a letter-writing campaign to UBC from people who believed a woman should coach the women’s team.”
This comment on it’s own, and the insinuation that the position was re-posted on the sole basis that people wanted a female coach is laughable. Personally, I wrote a letter, after they had re-posted for the position. The lack of integrity of the process was my focus and the reason for my outrage, a quality female applicant not even having her application considered was the secondary focus. Most others that I talked to in the soccer world said the same thing.
Furthermore, I did find out in a casual conversation a week later that a man I know who has 2 kids in the soccer system, who is a high powered executive, found out about the initial hiring process the night of the announcement, and learned more about the lack of due process, including how the job was announced before the deadline for applicants was closed from local soccer circles and was horrified.
He told me he was so disgusted that he spent the next morning, calling 15 friends of his, alums and donors to UBC, letting them know the lack of due process and integrity in the initial hiring process, and according to him, all 15 called the Chancellors office that morning. By the evening the position was re-classified as open. Their calls had nothing to do with a female in the position of head coach, and everything to do with the lack of due process.
I would venture a guess that these calls were just as important than any letters received. Again to put the assertion out there that the primary motivation and outrage had to do the fact MR wasn’t a female, as opposed to the lack of due process in which he was hired, is quite frankly untrue and inflammatory.
As an interesting sidenote, that I have not seen reported anywhere–once the process was opened to all candidates, there were 3 candidates interviewed. MR, AN and another who has experience at the women’s university level as a head coach, and was involved with the national team and youth program. Interestingly enough, this coach, a male, has far better qualifications than the first candidate that was named. Therefore making the MR v AN debate even further meritless.
To conclude, quite simply, to 2 people who have both done an exceptional job in all aspects of their careers, both deserved much better, and one can only hope that UBC takes the hiring for positions at their university more seriously in the future. But that being said, to suggest that AN got the job after a far more fair and unbiased process, for any other reason than being the best candidate regardless of gender, is in my opinion, nothing more than sour grapes.