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Archive for November 16, 2006

Nov. 16, 2006 — The highs and lows of a career

What does Syracuse field hockey coach Kathleen Parker have in common with Ben Stiller, Joe Girardi, Wayne Brady, and The $25,000 Pyramid?

All of the contents of the above list received their profession’s highest honor at or around the same time they were being terminated.

Parker was elected to the National Field Hockey Coaches’ Association Hall of Fame on Oct. 27th. Five days later, Syracuse University athletic director Daryl Gross announced the school’s decision not to retain her after the 2006 season.

Parker, over a period of 29 years, soldiered the Orangewomen to more than 300 coaching wins and brought a number of talented players to the banks of the Onondaga.

The beginning, and end, of her tenure at Syracuse can be summarized in a single number: 9.

That’s the number of players who came to her first practice before the 1978 season. It was also the number of players who finished out the 2004 season because Parker suspended the rest of the team before a Big East semifinal game with Boston College.

Talk of this incident dominated the offseason, and there was plenty of speculation about her job security. The Orange went 21-18 after those suspensions, but would fail to make the 2006 Big East Tournament.

Parker’s record after the mass suspension should not have been sufficient grounds for dismissal; the Syracuse Post-Standard’s online edition intimated as much when it said she was “pushed out the door.”

The dismissal hardly seems fair, and it makes you wonder whether it will lead to the kind of career limbo that has befallen Wayne Brady after his talk show was cancelled after winning two Emmys. Or perhaps it will give Parker a chance to redeem herself on the level of a Ben Stiller, who went on to a lucrative film career after his Emmy-winning television comedy show was cancelled after three months.

Still, there should be some embarrassment in Orangeland for dumping a Hall-of-Famer so soon after her election.