John Dzik

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Letters Main > Rich Schepis, Class of 1997

Robin Moll
Vice President
Institutional Advancement
Cabrini College
610 King of Prussia Road
Radnor, Pa. 19807

January 13, 2005

Dear Ms. Moll,

This letter is a follow up to the phone conversation we had yesterday (Jan. 12, 2005) re: Cabrini College's decision not to renew John Dzik's contract as Head Men's Basketball Coach at Cabrini College following the conclusion of the 2004-2005 season. Once again I would like to state how ashamed and embarrassed I am to be member of the Cabrini College alumni community in light of this decision and in the manner it was carried out. I am still in shock and searching for answers, as are many of my former classmates and current alumni, regarding how and why this decision was reached.

I respect and understand the College's policy regarding not commenting on its personnel decisions and also recognize that Cabrini is a business and decisions are made with that in mind. Too many times loyalty does cloud one's opinion when having to make a difficult decision as when is the right time to move on. I am sure you would agree that Penn State is wrestling with this very type of decision when it comes to the status of its Head Football Coach Joe Paterno, a fair comparison to Dzik considering the respective impacts each has on their institutions.

I probably would be more apt to understand this decision if John Dzik's skills had eroded as a coach and as a mentor to his students. If his presence was holding back his players, team, the program, the department or college. Maybe if John made some poor decisions in how he conducted himself with his players or while representing the college. Of course, no evidence of any of these examples exist, as John's integrity, honor and character have never been called into question in his 25 years as Head Men's Basketball Coach as well as his 20-plus years as Athletic Director at Cabrini.

Ruling out the above as well as poor job performance combined with the lack of information coming from the administration, I as well as my fellow alumni, are forced to surmise on our own why this decision was reached. If it was not reached for any of the above reasons, or related-type reasons, then logic clearly shows another path.

Unfortunately I am not privy to the decision-making process any longer at the College. I also do not want to speculate, however if John Dzik is not being retained for any of the above reasons then I have a few questions that lead me in one direction, a direction I do not care for.

John Dzik has given the last 25 years of his life to Cabrini. Twenty-five successful years, and please note, I am not measuring success in the athletic arena because I feel that is not necessary - the numbers speak for themselves when it comes to his team's, the department's and college's successes on the playing fields, which by the way continues today. No, I am referring to Dzik's successful run as a mentor and role model to Cabrini's student body for the past 25 years. I am sure today many of us would agree that we would not be the people we are today if it were not for the influence and impact of John in our lives.

John was the one who encouraged, nurtured, taught and allowed me to grow in collegiate athletics. If not for his leadership, I may actually be just "working a job" instead of doing something I love - something which by the way he taught me. I remember that day eight-plus years ago like it was yesterday when sitting in John's old office in Sacred Heart Gymnasium, now Founder's Hall I believe, when John explained to me how we was the luckiest man in the world as he awoke each day and went to do something he loved. That love and pride expressed itself in everything John did for Cabrini athletics and its students.

John even demonstrated recently his character and teamwork when he graciously stepped aside last year, relinquishing his title as Athletic Director so the College could ensure keeping another one of its talented people who could move no further in the department. His unselfishness and eagerness to do what was best for the College is another shining example to his players and students, current and past, of the type of man he is. So of course, the College would not want to keep this type of individual around anymore, because why would they want their students emulating these traits.

I would hope you would agree that these are all good questions. I would also hope that you agree that to the outside observer, it seems as if John is not being retained for any valid reason. I did forget to mention his age, but I know that this is not reason. There is no out with the old and in with the new, because first, many of the greatest Presidents of this fine nation were much older than John is today. I am also sure that President Iadarola is older than John is and last time I checked, she was still running the show over at Cabrini.

Since his skills and relationships with his former and current students have not eroded, why then is this man not being retained? Why after stepping aside for the good of the school a year ago as Athletic Director? Why when he has expressed a desire to retire in this position? Why when it is clear he is still at the top of his game as a coach, mentor, role model, leader, recruiter and ambassador of Cabrini College? And most heinously why is he being denied an opportunity that only a handful of individuals have achieved in reaching the 500-win plateau as a coach?

It hurts me to think this, but the last one is a cold-hard slap of reality. This last question makes me and my fellow classmates wonder if this is not just a calculated business decision but something much more petty and personal.

Of course, the suspect list is not very long. There is the Vice President of Student Development Christine Lysionek, who actually informed John he would not be retained and gave him a glimmer of the reason when she told him "he was too angry to continue at Cabrini." This of course offers up an entire new line of questions as to why is he still employed now if he has been labeled as too angry to remain - doesn't make much sense does it? There is of course you, who I am guessing was the brains behind the memo that informed John he would be required to take personal and vacation time when his duties as men's basketball coach for Cabrini interfered with his office hours in Institutional Advancement at Cabrini. If it was not you I apologize, but that was a work of brilliance if I ever saw one. Sort of puts the writing on the wall that you are not wanted, wouldn't you agree?

And finally, there is the President herself, who should not emerge unscathed from all of this. I am eight years removed as a student, and seven as an employee, and have watched all too often as many good people who gave everything to Cabrini College - Jim Hirsch and Paul Weaver just to name two - were unceremoniously shown the door for no good reason during her current tenure. In fact, one could describe her presidency with one word - turnover - constant and quick.

As promised yesterday on the telephone, I have already been in contact with several of my former classmates and other current alumni who will shortly be contacting you as well requesting their names be removed from all mailings and solicitation from Cabrini as well as pulling any and all financial support. This is a reminder to you to immediately remove my name and personal information from the College mailing list. Remove me from all solicitation requests. Remove me from your career network. I can no longer in good conscience continue to assist the growth of the college and its students when the administration turns its back on an individual like Dzik, who has done nothing but work to make Cabrini the institution it is today. As far as Cabrini should be concerned I am dead and am no good to it.

You asked me yesterday if would still except newsletters and magazines and that is answer is still no. However, you did say you hoped I would change my mind when time was given a chance to heal these wounds and I have thought about it. I would be willing to change my mind when the President issues a public apology to Dzik for the embarrassment and heartache this situation has caused him and offers him a new contract that is open-ended, terminated when Dzik wants to retire and not before. This is the way to win back my support, all body, heart, soul . and of course, the only thing that truly matters when it comes to your institution - money.

I appreciate your task is a difficult one currently, and John shared with me your comments to him that this is what "we do in IA" when taking these phone calls, letters and e-mail from alumni. To the outsider observer, one might even question your professionalism and how you will ultimately handle this outcry, an outrage that has been described by one administrator as one that "will decrease with time."

I warn you not to underestimate this effort. As I said yesterday, we are mobilizing our efforts. We will not allow the College to treat John Dzik this way after all he has done for the school. We will be contacting other alumni, including donors, and urging that they pull all financial support for the College until John Dzik's contract is renewed. It would be a shame to see that unfinished building remain unfinished for the foreseeable future.

Thank you for your time today. Please do not bother to respond, unless it is to tell me that the College recognizes it made a mistake (we're all human) and will be reversing its decision immediately.


Rich Schepis

Class of 1997

Director of Football Operations

University of Pennsylvania

cc: Toni Iadarola Christine Lysionek Board of Trustees Alumni Board Loquitur Mike Jensen, Philadelphia Inquirer Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart