MINNEAPOLIS -- Almost every aspect of American life has changed in the past 35 years. And the way that allegations of sexual improprieties by a former Minnesota Gophers hockey coach were handled in 1985 would not be repeated today.
That was the conclusion of an investigation launched last winter, when allegations of sexual abuse surfaced more than three decades after Thomas ‘Chico’ Adrahtas spent a single season as an assistant coach in the Gophers’ men’s hockey program.
Adrahtas, who did not respond to several interview requests from The Rink Live, was on the staff of former Gophers head coach Brad Buetow in the 1984-85 season. Buetow was not offered a contract at that season’s end. Facing accusations of sexual improprieties from several former players, Adrahtas also left the U of M in June 1985 and has not lived in Minnesota since.
Per a February report in The Athletic, Adrahtas most recently worked for a college club team in Illinois, but has since been effectively banned from the sport due to multiple allegations of improper behavior with players. In February, the U of M hired the law firm of Perkins Coie LLP to investigate the school’s handling of the matter in 1985, when the Minnesota accusations against Adrahtas first surfaced.
In a statement sent out by the U or M on Friday, Oct. 16, the school explained the reason for hiring the law firm:
“The investigation aimed, in part, to determine whether reports of the alleged abuse were made known to the University at the time of the former coach’s employment and, if so, whether any responsive actions were taken to address them,” the statement read, in part, adding that they, “...asked Perkins to provide the University with an independent assessment of its factual findings once the investigation was complete.”
The investigators sent letters to all of the 1984-85 Gophers requesting interviews, and identified roughly 50 others who were believed to have information relevant to Adrahtas’ conduct while employed by the university. Of those, 14 were deceased -- including Paul Giel, who was the U of M athletic director at the time -- and several others either did not respond or declined to be interviewed. The firm ultimately conducted interviews with 29 people and received written responses from one more. They found that several people at the U of M heard of the accusations against Adrahtas, but no official action was taken.
“Collectively, based on credible and corroborating firsthand witness accounts, Perkins found that sexual abuse allegations like those reported in The Athletic were known by individuals within the University’s athletic department at or around the time of the former assistant coach’s departure from the University,” the statement read. “Despite this knowledge, available evidence shows no action taken by the University to conduct an independent investigation or report the allegations to the authorities. That is not what the University would do today.”
Interviewed by The Rink Live in early March, Buetow said he had no knowledge of the alleged inappropriate conduct with players by Adrahtas before hiring him, or during the assistant coach’s lone season at the U of M. Adrahtas was accused by several people of coercing blindfolded and bound players into oral sex with what they were told was a woman, but in fact was likely Adrahtas himself.
“I interviewed (Adrahtas), talked to him, checked every aspect I could on him and it was all clean. And he knew his hockey. He was a very knowledgeable hockey coach,” said Buetow, who is retired and lives in Colorado. “I had no idea about any of the other stuff or I would’ve reported him to the authorities immediately. Anybody should.”
The investigators also reviewed hundreds of boxes of printed materials, and found no documented evidence of the allegations against Adrahtas. Per the U of M, their report cannot be made public under state law because it includes private information regarding former school employees.