Volume 94, Issue 75

Tuesday, February 6, 2001


Spikers take first - Women's streak at 8 games

Men's volleyball team drops the ball

Western athletic chair to step down

Hockeytown U.S.A?

Western athletic chair to step down

By Joel Brown
Gazette Staff

Western's only-ever chair of athletics has decided to step down after 18 years.

According to numerous sources in the Mustangs athletics department, including its football coach, current chair Darwin Semotiuk does not intend to seek the renewal of his contract when it expires in June.

Mustangs football head coach, Larry Haylor, said the buzz of Semotiuk leaving had been going around the athletic department for quite some time now.

"When he was re-appointed the last time he only looked for a three-year appointment, when it is normally five. There was just something about three. With the new stadium opening and the Canada summer games occurring in the last year of that contract it was a magical window of opportunity to leave."

Semotiuk, who is currently vacationing in Jamaica and could not be reached for comment, will continue his involvement in the Western and London community through various ventures.

While many support Semotiuk's decision to step down and agree the timing was right for him, he leaves behind a lot of admiration from his coaches and peers.

"He was the steward of an athletics program that is the envy of most universities," Haylor said. "I don't think there is another athletic program that has a higher level of achievement in Canada. It's hard to find anyone who is more committed to the student-athlete than Western.

"Also we have many, many sports that all compete well and achieve enormously, across genders. We're a very grounded program."

"I have some mixed emotions," added McMaster Director of Athletics and Ontario University Athletics president, Therese Quigley. "I hate to see someone who has such a passion for the sport leave. At the same time many people find themselves in the position where it is the perfect time to retire and I'll be looking forward to celebrating with him."

An Alberta native, Semotiuk came to Western in 1971 as an assistant football coach for a Vanier Cup winning football team, while also being an assistant professor of physical education. In 1974 he was promoted to defensive co-ordinator for another Vanier winner and became the head coach the next year.

In 1982 he was named Western's first chair of athletics while continuing to be the football head coach. He stepped down from his coaching position in 1984. While acting as the chair, he has been on numerous Canadian Intercollegiate Athletics Union and Olympic committees.

Before Western, Semotiuk was a standout athlete, playing as both a wide receiver and defensive back for the University of Alberta Golden Bears.

Barry Martinelli, one of Western's sports co-ordinators, said he believes Semotiuk's hip replacement surgery last November had nothing to do with his decision.

Western's dean of health sciences, Angelo Belcastro, is now forming an advisory committee to select the new director, hopefully by May 1.

"There will be a lot of good people who go for the position," Haylor said, who hasn't ruled out the possibility of running for the top spot in the athletics department. "There will be a lot of internal candidates and excellent external candidates. There's a lot critical issues facing athletics in the next year and who's steering vessel is critical."

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