Calgary

University of Lethbridge women's hockey coach leaves job months after complaints

The head coach of the women's team at the University of Lethbridge is off the job, months after being sued over allegations of harassment.

Players allege Michelle Janus bullied team members, and filed lawsuit against school

Michelle Janus is no longer the head coach of the women's hockey team at the University of Lethbridge, a job she's held since 2015. Prior to that, she worked for the Ryerson Rams. (Ryerson Rams/Pronghorns)

The head coach of the women's hockey team at the University of Lethbridge is off the job, months after being sued over allegations of harassment.

The Pronghorns women's hockey program posted a notice on its website Tuesday, announcing that effective immediately, Michelle Janus was no longer head coach.

"The women's hockey players have been made aware of this change," the short statement said. "Pronghorn Athletics will announce an interim coach in the near future."

The university's statement did not say why Janus is no longer head coach or if she left the position willingly. Instead, it called the departure a "human resources matter," and said it would make no further comment. 

Investigation

Janus has coached the team since 2015. In the last year, she has been accused of bullying and harassing members of the hockey team, several of whom are suing her, the university and its sports director.

The school investigated a harassment complaint by six team members and in a July 2018 letter to players, the school said it found "the policy on harassment has been violated."

However, the university also kept Janus as head coach and said in the letter that it would work with her "to correct the harassment behaviour and to work towards ensuring a healthy team environment."

University of Lethbridge filed a statement of defence last fall against a lawsuit from women's hockey team players. (University of Lethbridge)

In a statement of claim, players allege Janus used ice time to threaten players, that she made abusive remarks to players and allowed bullying. They also allege the university should have fired her, saying concerns had been raised early in her tenure.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

In November 2018, Lethbridge News Now reported a statement of defence had been filed by the university. The school called the allegations "scandalous" and asked that the case be dismissed.

Prior to her time at Lethbridge, Janus was an assistant coach with the Ryerson University Rams women's hockey program, according to a notice announcing her move.

Her Ryerson biography also said she coached in the Provincial Women's Hockey League of Ontario and played semi-pro hockey in Wales and Sweden.

About the Author

Rachel Ward

Journalist

Rachel Ward is a journalist with CBC Calgary. You can reach her with questions or story ideas at rachel.ward@cbc.ca.