And away he goes …

Charlie Coyle didn’t want to be a college hockey player anymore. And Friday, both Boston University and Saint John of the QMJHL confirmed this: Coyle, a sophomore center, is leaving school to play major-junior hockey in Canada. Coyle leaves the Terriers after 16 games this season, in which he scored three goals and 11 assists and was a plus-7.

(Coyle is also the second departure from the BU hockey team in two weeks, as Corey Trivino was dismissed last week, stemming from his arrest after an incident in which he allegedly broke into a female student’s dorm room and assaulted her.)

Some would be alarmed by yet another player leaving NCAA hockey for the major-junior proving grounds, given a trend that spiked about a year and a half ago: players committed to or playing for college hockey programs, then leaving after a certain amount of time with the program (or even not practicing with the team at all, leaving after making a commitment and before the first practices) for a non-academic-centered hockey program, such as junior hockey or the NHL.

The biggest point of contention in this trend? Players who renege on college commitments to join a major-junior team, or to turn pro instead of exploring their options as a student-athlete. It’s part of the reason why College Hockey, Inc. was established. (Disclosure: I have done freelance writing for College Hockey, Inc.)

College Hockey, Inc. isn’t going to keep college hockey players in college. But it’s a marketing organization to continue to raise college hockey’s profile, and it gives players and their families the proper information on the option of playing NCAA hockey, one of the many options players may have in regards to their future in playing hockey.

But to stay, to depart or to not go at all? It’s like my father used to tell me: No one is forcing you to stay. Or leave. Or not go at all. You have a choice.


When he’s asked, a player’s reasoning for his departure in this situation typically goes something like this (if he says anything at all):

“I wanted to develop my game in order to have a better shot at the NHL.”

And that’s a fair assessment. Though there’s something to be said for the virtue of not only making a commitment, but fully honoring it. With our culture shifting towards favoring short-attention spans and instant gratification, will a pattern continue?

And in the wake of these departures, there’s a question: How much of this departure had to do with academic issues?

Coyle said this much via text message to the Daily Free Press, Boston University’s student newspaper:

“Yes, I have made my decision to leave BU because I’m done with being a student-athlete and I want to focus on just hockey  I was not failing out.

“It was definitely a hard decision to make and I will miss my teammates and coaches. BU was a great place to be and I enjoyed my time there.”

In addition, Coyle’s agents emailed a statement to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, saying that “Charlie Coyle has decided to leave Boston University. Contrary to
speculation he did not flunk out of BU.”

But has anyone truthfully answered this question?

Or have federal guidelines – FERPA, also known as the Buckley Amendment – stifled the response to this question? Or stifled someone from asking the question?

One of the Buckley Amendment’s provisions states that a student must give a school permission to release academic records. It also limits what information an educational employee can release about a student’s attendance, behavior or enrollment.

And has anyone answered this question? Was it solely your decision to go this route, or was it the decision of the NHL team that holds your rights?

Coyle is a former first-round draft pick of San Jose, and is currently property of the Minnesota Wild.


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