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Failure to Communicate

16 December 2014

Last night, just before 10, I was sitting on my couch trying to study for my exam the next morning. It went something like this: study 5 minutes, check Twitter, check email, play game, repeat.

Then Twitter exploded. UMD head coach Shannon Miller, assistant coaches Gina Kingsbury and Laura Schuler, and part-time Director of Operations Jen Banford (also the softball head coach, a position I hope is not also in jeopardy) would not have their contracts renewed.

What the [you know what word goes here].

People have a lot of negative things to say about Shannon Miller. Some of them are true, some of them are incredibly sexist or bigoted, some of them are baseless speculation. But there’s not a single person out there that can defend announcing the “non-renewal” of an entire coaching staff in the middle of a season, in the middle of final exams week. (The players did know earlier, but I guarantee it was a distraction. I know this because the captain herself told me.) For all the talk about how student athletes are STUDENTS FIRST, one would think tUMD’s athletic department could have held off.

You know, at least until the end of the season. What’s more disrespectful than “Surprise! You’re fired! In three months! Now get out there and coach, because we fully support this program!!” I guess that would be “Surprise! Your coach was fired! And we won’t even start looking for a new one for several months! Now go take your finals! Because education is important and we don’t want your grades to slip! And remember we fully support your program, so play hard, even though now you have to decide if you’re even going to be here next year, and maybe if you do stay you’ll get cut by the new rando coach we hire!”

We are in real danger of losing players and recruits, and this program’s future is worrisome. I understand that we will never get another reason out of the AD and Chancellor beyond financial concerns. We all know that there’s more to it and we all know that they will never say it publicly, which is fine. But this program is supposed to be a top program, a dynasty. The AD says the university will look at what other coaches in the WCHA are making and will not outspend the Big 10. Great, let’s look at what disastrous programs like St. Cloud pay their coaches and buy that level of coaching talent. That’ll bring the recruits and fans by the busload. What’s a bigger draw than good old-fashioned thriftiness? Oh, you cheaped out and got some tenth-rate washed-up peewee coach who once sharpened the skates of Stanley Palmer? Well… I was leaning toward going to Wisconsin but now you’ve convinced me! Give me that letter of intent!!!

I’m pretty burned out from finals and still have 2 more to go, so my brain isn’t quite working right. I’ll have more to say later on, but I couldn’t let this go unaddressed for too long.

Please make sure to read the excellent coverage by Matt Wellens over at the Bulldog Hockey Blog. He has transcribed interviews with Josh Berlo and Shannon Miller that are worth a look.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Bulldog Phil permalink
    17 December 2014 3:42 pm

    Any insight as to why so many players left after last season and why one left already this year? Any truth to Shannon and her forced beliefs the cause?

  2. RLock715 permalink
    17 December 2014 11:42 pm

    It almost seems like UMD just wants to do away with Women’s Hockey completely. Berlo is dodging questions left and right, Chancellor Black hasn’t said much of anything (that I’m aware of), and neither of them are paying any attention to what the rest of the world is saying. I feel really bad for the girls who aren’t graduating this year, and personally would not think anything less of them if they chose to transfer next year.

    • 18 December 2014 9:56 am

      I hope no one transfers! Maybe Laura or Gina will get the head coaching job and convince them all to stay. But I will understand if they can’t wait around. According to the AD today, all scholarships will be honored. I wonder about the veracity of that. Is he barring the new coach from making cuts? I’m not saying anyone SHOULD be cut, but sometimes that happens with new coaches.


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