PDA

View Full Version : USCGA Women's Basketball Coach Found Dead


Luigi59
15th March 2009, 01:19 PM
USCGA Women's Basketball Coach Found Dead
By Kira Goldenberg
Published on 3/15/2009 - theday.com (http://www.theday.com/re.aspx?re=001ea588-688b-4a24-8107-cc389b5ef945)

New London - Alex Simonka, the head coach of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy women's basketball team, was found dead in his car on campus early Saturday evening.

Simonka's death, which was discovered around 5:30 p.m., was still being investigated by Coast Guard Investigative Services and the New London Police Department late Saturday night, according to Petty Officer Ryan Doss, assistant public affairs officer.

Simonka, 52, of Gales Ferry, recently completed his 16th season coaching the team. He is a 1999 inductee into the CGA Hall of Fame who played football, basketball and baseball for the Bears as a cadet from 1976-79.

Simonka still holds two CGA athletic records: most touchdown receptions in a football game (three) and most baseball at-bats without a strikeout (106). He also led the Bears to their first NCAA basketball tournament berth in the 1978-79 season.

J Collins
15th March 2009, 04:14 PM
That is just horrible!!!!

Prayers to all the family, friends and Cadets...

kp2001
15th March 2009, 04:22 PM
wow, incredibly sad news.....my prayers go out to his family and his extended Coast Guard Family

kp2001
17th March 2009, 12:22 PM
Latest from the NavyTimes:

http://www.navytimes.com/news/2009/03/ap_coast_guard_coach_031609/

J Collins
17th March 2009, 12:31 PM
Latest from the NavyTimes:

http://www.navytimes.com/news/2009/03/ap_coast_guard_coach_031609/

I just really hate reading that... such an additional emotional blow to the family...horrible, just horrible

Luigi59
17th March 2009, 12:46 PM
The Superintendent of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy passes the following message to the Academy Community:

It is with great sadness that I share with you that one of our own, Mr. Alex Simonka, our Athletics Division Business Manager and Women's Basketball Coach, was found dead in his car here at the Academy on Saturday evening March 14, 2009.

Alex Simonka was a mentor, coach, and friend, and we are all deeply hurt by this tragedy.

Situations such as this often cause us to ask more questions than there are answers, but for now I ask that we focus on providing support to those most affected by this loss, and by providing our deepest sympathy to the family members left behind.

For more than 30 years Alex Simonka served the Coast Guard and the Academy in various capacities as both an officer and a civilian employee. Those who knew Alex best saw his passion for helping others, and his interest in developing and inspiring future Coast Guard leaders.

This loss will affect each of us differently, and assistance will be available for anyone who needs it. Academy chaplains and counselors will be available in the Upper Leamy Hall Lounge starting today for anyone who desires assistance. A Critical Incident Stress Management Team will be available Monday afternoon.

More information regarding memorial services and support will be passed as it becomes available.

Alex's family, friends, and all those whose lives he touched are in my thoughts and prayers. Please join me in remembering Mr. Alex Simonka for the many lives he impacted in a positive way, and help look after those most affected by his loss.

Sincerely,

RADM J. Scott Burhoe
Superintendent, USCGA

LineInTheSand
17th March 2009, 01:06 PM
Very sad. My prayers go out to his family, friends, and the Coast Guard community who looked up to him and worked with him.

Bear
24th March 2009, 11:22 PM
Very sad to learn of this loss at the Academy: http://www.oregonlive.com/sportsflash/index.ssf?/base/sports-11/1237209850237700.xml&storylist=sports

Bear
24th March 2009, 11:27 PM
More info: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncw/news/story?id=4011825

Luigi59
24th March 2009, 11:31 PM
It's already been posted in the "Academy/Military News" section of this forum.

http://www.serviceacademyforums.com/showthread.php?t=5312

No need to start a new thread.

LineInTheSand
25th March 2009, 12:25 AM
No need to discuss this anymore.

Just_A_Mom
25th March 2009, 09:37 AM
What a tragedy for this coach, his family, CGA Athletics and the CGA.

http://www.navytimes.com/news/2009/03/ap_cg_basketballcoach_032409/

It appears CGA athletics was a one man show - what a shame. Possibly a violation of Sarbanes-Oxley prompted the investigation.
Going forward - I hope that the athletic program will not suffer and that the CGA athletic department will be run completely separate from the Athletic Association.
My condolences to all.

LineInTheSand
25th March 2009, 10:20 AM
I believe we've already said what needs to happen to this thread.

oldgrad
25th March 2009, 10:50 AM
JAM, thanks for posting the Navy Times update. I agree with LITS that any speculation is inappropriate. However, the article was very enlightening.

Luigi59
25th March 2009, 11:03 AM
Oddly this thread remains yet the thread(s) last month about the West Point cadet who ran through the barracks drunk and attacked two female cadets (supported by appropriate links to newspaper articles as well) was deleted.

:thumbdown:

kp2001
25th March 2009, 11:08 AM
There is already a thread on this as stated above. I will merge the two threads and we'll go from there.

LineInTheSand
25th March 2009, 01:00 PM
We can go from here to delete the thread, based on the proximity to both current CG officers and CG cadets who use this forum. If not deleted, I hope the admin keep a close eye to make sure this doesn't head any further south.

oldgrad
25th March 2009, 01:44 PM
We can go from here to delete the thread, based on the proximity to both current CG officers and CG cadets who use this forum. If not deleted, I hope the admin keep a close eye to make sure this doesn't head any further south.

Honestly? I suppose there are those small minded individuals who would rather read that it was a sex scandal involving underage male swabs. Personally, to me, it was gratifying to learn that perhaps it was simply an individual trying to do his job, constrained by manpower and an inflexible financial system.

Please don't read this as speculation. Merely as an example of how an honorable person doing the 'right' thing might get caught up in something like this. All in all, nevertheless, a sad and unfortunate situation.

LineInTheSand
25th March 2009, 02:05 PM
I completely read that as speculation, and I am waiting for this thread to be closed down, or deleted.

Just_A_Mom
25th March 2009, 02:30 PM
LITS - I simply posted a new report from the Navy Times - my comments are based wholly on the content of the article.

In case you are unable to click on the link I will post it for you:

The women’s basketball coach at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy who committed suicide earlier this month had been put on paid leave three days before his death amid an investigation by federal prosecutors, a school official has said.
Alex Simonka, 51, who was also director of the school’s athletic association, was found dead in his car at the New London academy on March 14. The state medical examiner ruled he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Rear Adm. J. Scott Burhoe, the academy’s superintendent, said in statement that the Connecticut U.S. attorney’s office has been investigating the Coast Guard Academy Athletic Association for several months.
The nature of the investigation is unclear. Neither academy officials nor a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office would comment.
“After an interview with Mr. Alex Simonka, certain information was revealed that warranted placing him on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of that investigation,” Burhoe said in the statement first provided to The Day of New London on Monday.
Burhoe referred other questions to federal prosecutors. Tom Carson, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, said Tuesday that he could neither confirm nor deny an investigation of Simonka or the athletic association.
The unincorporated association raises money for the academy’s sports teams and spends about $1 million a year, said Petty Officer Ryan Doss, an academy spokesman. Half the money for the academy’s intercollegiate athletic program comes from the association, while the other half comes from federal government appropriations.
The organization pays for assistant coaches’ salaries, athletic equipment repairs, teams’ travel costs, printing expenses, sports awards and other costs, Doss said. Revenues come from donations, ticket sales and merchandizing, he said.
Simonka, who was not paid for his work as the association’s director, was also the academy’s athletics business manager. He lived in the town of Ledyard with his wife and daughter, Doss said.
Simonka had served the Coast Guard and the academy for more than 30 years in various positions, both as an officer and a civilian employee, Burhoe said. He graduated from the academy in 1979, retired from active duty in 1999 and coached the women’s basketball team for the past 16 years.
He was a three-sport athlete at the academy. He led the basketball team to its first NCAA tournament in 1978-79, and he still holds the football record for three touchdown receptions in a single game, according to his obituary in The Day.
“We are all deeply hurt by this tragedy,” Burhoe said last week. “Those who knew Alex best saw his passion for helping others, and his interest in developing and inspiring future Coast Guard leaders.”


No one can comment on the investigation because this is an ongoing legal matter that may go to a grand jury. Neither side wants the grand jury to be tainted - or any jury should charges be brought.

The bold portion of the article is somewhat troubling if true. This is very common in small organizations without the manpower to provide a segregation of duties. However, the enactment of Sarbanes-Oxley (after the Enron, Tyco scandals etc) requires a segregation of duties. I suspect a forensic audit is/has taken place. I am not and have not accused the coach of any crime including embezzlement or any personal gain.

I am not speculating that this is the "cause" of the tragic suicide at all. None of us can get inside the coach's head. However, being under a Federal investigation and placed on leave must have caused a great deal of stress in this man's life.
Tragedy all around.

Pima
25th March 2009, 03:15 PM
I agree let this thread be locked/deleted. It has nothing to offer for the members of this community, except voyeurism.

LineInTheSand
25th March 2009, 03:27 PM
There has been quite a bit of tragedy all over this year. The three suicides at West Point haven't been covered recently, but I never heard what happened with that. It is very sad when someone takes their own life, I just hope we can avoid speculation about the reason, even if it is in bold.

LineInTheSand
25th March 2009, 03:27 PM
I agree let this thread be locked/deleted. It has nothing to offer for the members of this community, except voyeurism.

Concur.

officer
25th March 2009, 03:36 PM
So sorry for all those who are being touched by this loss. My prayers go out to all in the CG community and special prayers for the family. -officer

Luigi59
25th March 2009, 04:21 PM
There has been quite a bit of tragedy all over this year. The three suicides at West Point haven't been covered recently, but I never heard what happened with that.

Because threads that cast negative light on West Point are deleted here.

True story.

WAMom68
25th March 2009, 05:43 PM
Because threads that cast negative light on West Point are deleted here.

True story.

It is not true and you know it. If you want to read about the WP suicides here you go: http://www.serviceacademyforums.com/showthread.php?t=4828&highlight=west+point+suicides

The thread you are referring to was deleted because you insinuated that a cadet had some sort of inside information against the Army officers who were involved in his trial. The truth is that the cadet was tried and found guilty of one charge but not of another. If anyone would like to read about the case here are the press releases right off of the USMA website:
http://www.westpoint.edu/Dcomm/PressReleasesbd/nr11-09cadet_mcmurray_reprimand_sentencing.html
and
http://www.westpoint.edu/Dcomm/PressReleasesbd/nr09-09cadet_court_martial.html

kaullman
25th March 2009, 05:59 PM
It is appropriate for this site to speak truthfully about issues that involve the military and the service academies. Providing links to reputable sources is also appropriate and called for. I look forward to hearing more on this topic, hoping to hear that a thorough investigation has concluded and appropriate actions, if any, taken.

It is inappropriate to shut down a thread just because it casts an unflattering light. The truth will out!

Maximus
26th March 2009, 12:01 PM
It is appropriate for this site to speak truthfully about issues that involve the military and the service academies. Providing links to reputable sources is also appropriate and called for. I look forward to hearing more on this topic, hoping to hear that a thorough investigation has concluded and appropriate actions, if any, taken.

It is inappropriate to shut down a thread just because it casts an unflattering light. The truth will out!

Agreed.

Luigi59
26th March 2009, 12:26 PM
It is appropriate for this site to speak truthfully about issues that involve the military and the service academies. Providing links to reputable sources is also appropriate and called for.

The OFFICIAL public statement from the Superintendent of the USCGA:

Update on Death of Coach Alex Simonka
Posted: March 24, 2009

Dear Academy Community,

As I indicated in my first and second notes to you, the circumstances of Mr. Alex Simonka's death have caused people to ask more questions than there are immediate answers.

For those most directly affected by his loss, please continue to accept my sincere condolences. His loss had a profound impact on the people he served during his many years of public service. This was evidenced by the outpouring of support and attendance at the memorial service, wake, and funeral service. Thank you to all those who planned, executed, and supported those events.

I know his loss caused great pain, particularly among those who knew him best. I am committed to sharing as much information as possible with the family and those closest to him.

Last week the United States Coast Guard Academy focused our efforts on honoring Mr. Simonka's many positive contributions to the Coast Guard, and helping his loved ones. As early as Monday of last week reporters from the media began asking questions about whether there was anything going on with his job or status at the Academy and/or whether he was in trouble for anything, being investigated, put on administrative leave, or relieved of his position?

I told those who asked, that out of respect for the Simonka family and the entire Academy community, I did not plan to respond to any media questions concerning his status until after his funeral on Friday.

As a public servant, and the leader of a federally funded institution, I am obligated to answer these questions and others to the fullest extent possible. Later today I will be corresponding with the New London Day regarding questions posed to me last week, and to other media who inquire. However, I wanted to inform you first of the information I plan to make public.

While I wish I could have shared more with you sooner, I was not able. We have been working closely with the United States Attorney’s Office to address and better understand the situation, which is why I now have permission to share publicly that the U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut is overseeing an investigation involving activities within the USCGA Athletic Association.

The investigation has been in progress for several months. After an interview with Mr. Alex Simonka, certain information was revealed that warranted placing him on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of that investigation. This is still an ongoing investigation, overseen by the U.S. Attorney and not USCGA. Media will be directed to the U.S. Attorney's office if they have any questions regarding the investigation. Anyone at the Academy receiving an inquiry from the media must direct them to our Public Affairs staff. The Public Affairs staff will refer them to the U.S. Attorney's office.

This has been a difficult and painful time for all of us even without the presence of an "investigation." Please know that any forthcoming information that may impact the United States Coast Guard Academy will be shared with you as soon as we are allowed to make that information public.

Thank you for coming together as a community to support each other, Alex's wife Denise, his daughter Ashlee, and the entire Simonka family during this very difficult time. Please keep the Simonka's and all those touched by this tragedy in your thoughts and prayers.

Our counseling center, chaplains, and CISM team members remain available to assist all those in need.

Warmest regards,

RADM J. Scott Burhoe
Superintendent, USCGA

kaullman
26th March 2009, 01:01 PM
Thanks for posting that, Luigi59.