Job security, new challenge reasons for leaving, says SMU coach

By WILLY PALOV Sports Reporter
Sat, Apr 2 - 4:54 AM

Lisa Jordan turned down a contract offer from Saint Mary’s on Friday in favour of a new head coaching position at Ryerson University.

The Westville native cited more stability and a fresh challenge as her primary reasons for leaving a Huskies’ women’s hockey program she built from the ground up over the past 14 years.

"It’s a great fit personally and professionally," Jordan said. "Professionally, Ryerson’s offered me a permanent coaching position; it’s not a contract scenario that expires every two or three years that has to be renewed. Job security was something that was very important to me. And it was the excitement of the opportunity.

"It’s a brand new women’s hockey program. It’s been in the initiation phase for the last two years to get accepted into the OUA (Ontario conference) so September will mark the first time Ryerson enters the CIS in women’s hockey. I was really drawn to the opportunity to build a new program, similar to what happened at Saint Mary’s."

The career change comes in the wake of an emotional two weeks for the Saint Mary’s women’s hockey team. A $60,000 pledge from Canadian Tire earlier this week helped save the program after the university’s administration cut it for budgetary reasons.

After the program was saved, SMU athletic director Steve Sarty said he offered Jordan a four-year contract and a vote of confidence for an extension beyond that term.

"Given who Lisa is and the great track record she has, I certainly would’ve renewed that at the end of the four years," said SMU athletic director Steve Sarty. "But it’s not the kind of thing we can say ‘I’ll give you a contract for life.’ That’s just not how it works here."

Jordan said Ryerson contacted her almost immediately after the initial announcement of the SMU cuts came out two weeks ago. But once she had the two offers in her hands, she felt there were too many pros with the Ryerson situation to ignore.

Her husband Bill Haley is a Ryerson alumnus from Lively, Ont., and she said it will also be exciting to have Maple Leaf Gardens as her new home rink.

But she still has a heavy heart leaving Saint Mary’s, calling it "an extremely difficult decision."

"The biggest struggle for me was having to tell my players I was moving on," Jordan said. "That’s what really pulled on my heart strings the most. I recruited all those players to come to Saint Mary’s so to have to say goodbye was really difficult."

Both Jordan and Sarty said the two sides are parting ways on good terms.

"I would’ve hoped she would’ve stayed because we have so much positive momentum behind the team from the community and a whole bunch of re-found fans," Sarty said. "Whether it’s Lisa or whoever our new coach is, I think it’s going to be a good environment. We hoped she would’ve stayed so she could’ve capitalized on that because she’s done a great job. But we certainly didn’t want to hold her back if she wants to move on and explore other opportunities. She’s been our coach here for a long time and coaches sometimes choose to take on new challenges. We certainly understand that."

Sarty said he’s already in the preliminary stages of finding Jordan’s replacement but doesn’t expect any announcements for at least a couple of weeks.

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