Failure to Communicate
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.