R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Find out what it means to Dzik

By Lauren Reilly
February 3, 2005

Ryan Norris

Cabrini College will not renew the coaching contract of John Dzik, longtime men’s basketball coach and former athletic director. After 25 years with Cabrini, the decision to pass on Dzik has caused many people to question the reasoning behind administrator’s actions.

Dzik was informed of his contract non-renewal shortly after resigning from his position as the special assistant to the president for athletic advancement. He moved to that position from athletic director so that Leslie Danehy, the current director of athletics, could remain at Cabrini.

“In our negotiations, when Dr. Iadarola and I sat and talked about what we would do to keep Leslie here, I certainly agreed with Dr. Iadorola that we didn’t want to lose a capable, dedicated employee like Leslie,” Dzik said.

Dzik explained that his proposed position in Institutional Advancement (I.A) was a common, progressive job move for athletic administrators. According to Dzik, at the request of President Dr. Antoinette Iadarola, they discussed the responsibilities of this position “and we agreed upon them. We talked about the things that needed to be accomplished from a developmental perspective through I.A. and that this position would have the domain for it,” Dzik said.

Iadarola had an optimistic outlook towards the development of this position for Dzik. “John, for many years, had talked to me about this Hall of Fame and wanting to do it, and this was a wonderful opportunity for him to give the time. I think that he felt he didn’t have the time as director to be able to do it, so here was a chance for him to do that,” Iadarola said.

However, Dzik said that his primary motivation for creating the position was to keep Danehy’s services at the college. “At no time in my tenure at Cabrini College have I ever expressed the desire to be a full-time employee of the Institutional Advancement office. I did it at the request of the president,” Dzik said.

Problems for Dzik began this past summer while speaking at basketball summer camps and clinics for children. He was informed that he would have to use personal days for his part-time coaching position if it interfered with his full-time position in Institutional Advancement.

“They said that I was a full-time I.A. employee and that any time that I spent not fulfilling my full-time hours in Institutional Advancement, even if it was coaching men’s basketball, that I would need to utilize personal time, either vacation or personal days, to fulfill that obligation, and I was unwilling to do so,” Dzik said.

Dzik stated that in his 24 years as head coach and athletic director he was never asked to use personal time to compensate for hours on the court, and he did not expect that of anyone else. “When I was director of athletics, Karen Pelky, who was our softball coach prior to this year…worked for me as the athletic secretary and she was also a softball coach. I never asked her, as her supervisor, to sacrifice personal time to represent Cabrini College as our women’s softball coach.”

Robin Moll, the vice president of Institutional Advancement and Dzik’s supervisor, explained that there are several staff members on campus who hold multiple positions and each of these roles has separate and distinct expectations. “If you’re a full-time employee, paid from a salary as a senior administrator, there is one set of personnel guidelines and expectations. If you’re a contract employee, there’s another.”

According to the Cabrini College staff handbook: “The scheduling of vacationing is subject to supervisory approval and may be affected by department and college work requirements.” However, the method by which this is enforced is “up to the supervisor of the department.”

Because of the difference between him and Moll over use of vacation days, Dzik decided to resign from his position as special assistant to the president for athletic advancement “in order to pursue other opportunities in the field of intercollegiate athletics,” as stated in a release authored by Moll on Dec. 17, 2004.

“When he tendered his resignation he requested that we announce, using the exact words ‘I have resigned my position in I.A. to seek full-time employment in intercollegiate athletics,’ and that is the reason that he presented to me,” Moll said.

Dzik asked that Moll express to the Cabrini community that he was resigning from his full-time position in Institutional Advancement to be involved with what he loves – intercollegiate athletics. “I wasn’t quitting because I wanted to go into sales; I wasn’t quitting because I wanted to further my career in Institutional Advancement. I wanted to make sure it came out that way because I knew, once I resigned, I was giving up a full-time position. I was giving up my livelihood,” Dzik said.

Dzik reports that although he was leaving his position in Institutional Advancement, he still expressed interest in keeping his part-time position as head coach of the men’s basketball team. “I did indicate to her that I certainly wanted to continue to coach basketball here. My goal was to win 500 basketball games, or more, as the Cabrini basketball coach and I think at the time she was supportive of that. At least that’s the impression I was left,” Dzik said. Dzik currently holds 479 wins and with seven games remaining in the regular season, he will fall just short of his goal.

Iadarola, however, had a different interpretation of Dzik’s future goals. “He resigned from his position in I.A. to look for other intercollegiate opportunities. He wants to move on in his life in another area. I believe he’s looked for positions elsewhere. His desire, I think, is to go to a Division II institution, so I think we all need to wish him well in his future,” Iadarola said.

The position that Iadarola referred to was one offered to Dzik this past November by a North Carolina high school where he would be athletic director and head coach of a boy’s basketball team. Dzik was indisposed to accept the offer as the high school wanted him to begin on Jan. 1, 2005, at which point he would be in the midst of coaching Cabrini’s men’s basketball team.

According to Dzik, in a meeting with Moll, the two discussed his options for leaving the department of Institutional Advancement, but there was no indication that his coaching position was in jeopardy.

“The intent there was for me to stay and coach the basketball team. We felt that it was in the best interest of the student athletes involved and the best interest of Cabrini College. We agreed that it seemed to make the most viable sense for everyone,” Dzik said.

Dzik reports that during a meeting in which he was to discuss resignation matters with Dr. Christine Lysionek, the vice president of Student Development, he was informed that Cabrini would not be renewing his coaching contract for next season. “No reasons were given,” Dzik said.

Lysionek defends the policy of the college not to reveal information about a person’s employment situation out of respect for the individual. She acknowledged that Cabrini is subject to criticism as a result of this nondisclosure agreement, and that it is the college’s choice to wave comments on these matters. “The reasons that his contract wasn’t renewed are exactly the contents of a decision that we’re trying to say ‘We really can’t give those kinds of details.’ What he chooses to share with you is what John is choosing to share,” Lysionek said.

In an interview with The Daily News, Dzik stated that when he asked for reasons as to why his contract would not be renewed, Lysionek said, ‘I feel that you’re too angry with Cabrini College to come back and coach the basketball team.’

Iadarola was appalled by the implications of the statement. “Do you believe that his contract wasn’t renewed because he’s too angry? Do you believe that we’ve done that?” Iadarola said.

Moll said that she understands the confusion amongst the Cabrini College community, but reaffirms that choices made by the college “were all done in good faith, by good people, who have the best interest of the college at heart.” She sympathized with supporters of Dzik, but believes that it is best not to question the reasoning of the administration. “They have to trust people for a decision that they will never understand. They’ll never hear both sides of the story and we’re asking them to trust us,” Moll said.

Lysionek agreed with Moll and emphasized that the administration works hard to do what they feel is in the best long-term interest of the institution. “I can tell you that as an administrator, on any decision that’s going to impact any area under my responsibility, I’m not going to be precipitous and I’m not going to make any kind of a decision for surface reasons – I’m going to think long and hard and carefully about it,” Lysionek said.

As of March 18, Dzik will no longer hold any positions at Cabrini College. “The bottom line is, it wasn’t my choice, it hasn’t been made my choice and that’s on the school, it’s not on me. I didn’t resign my basketball job. I was told, ‘We’re not going to rehire you,'” Dzik said.

Nonetheless, Iadarola, Lysionek and Moll say they continue to practice the core values:

“I would argue that this is the policy that is pretty much adhered to in most institutions that I know of anyway, in higher ed., with lots of good reasons,” Iadarola said.

“But it does feel especially right, here,” Moll said.

“Yes it does, it’s part of who we are,” Lysionek said.

“It does, and that’s why I think to say that he’s a very angry person and that my heart goes out to him at this point,” Iadarola said.

Posted to the web by Ryan Norris

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Lauren Reilly

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