ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — The University of Michigan has cut ties with hockey coach Mel Pearson.

The school announced its decision on Friday. Pearson’s contract expired after last season and he had been an at-will employee, pending a review of the program.

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An investigation, obtained by MLive among others, that was given to the school in May revealed in part that Pearson pressured student-athletes to lie about COVID-19 contact tracing during the 2020-21 season and fired volunteer coach Steve Shields for raising concerns.

“This decision has been weighed heavily and for some time,” athletic director Warde Manuel said in a statement released by the school. “We welcomed an independent third-party review into the climate and culture of our program before furthering our assessment in lockstep with campus leadership.

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“Our student-athletes having a positive and meaningful experience is of paramount importance, and a clear expectation within our department is that all employees and staff are valued and supported. I deeply appreciate and value the many individuals who came forward throughout this review. Today’s announcement reflects the seriousness with what we’ve heard and the values we hold dear at Michigan.”

The Wolverines did not play in the 2021 NCAA Tournament due to COVID-19 protocols. With a team led by NHL first-round draft picks, they were 31-10-1 last season and lost to Denver in the Frozen Four.

Pearson was 99-64-16 at Michigan. He previously coached at Michigan Tech.

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