Tuesday, December 16, 2014

UMD Women's Hockey Program Ending an Era

The only coach the UMD women's hockey program has ever known, Shannon Miller, will be finishing the 2014-15 season and then moving on from the university.
The school made the announcement Monday night via a press release.

University of Minnesota Duluth women’s hockey head coach Shannon Miller will not have her contract extended beyond the 2014-15 season, due to financial considerations. Two assistant coaches and a part-time director of operations will also not have their contracts renewed.

“We deeply appreciate and are proud of what Shannon has built and accomplished at UMD,” said Athletic Director Josh Berlo. “She established a winning program, raised it to the highest level of competition and sustained a national championship tradition over the last 15 years. Today’s decision about Shannon’s contract was an immensely difficult and financially driven decision. Unfortunately, UMD Athletics is not in a position to sustain the current salary levels of our women’s hockey coaching staff. However, we remain committed to supporting the Bulldog women’s hockey program.”

Chancellor Lendley (Lynn) Black expressed his deep appreciation for Coach Miller’s tenure: “Thank you for being one of the best coaches in the history of UMD Intercollegiate Athletics.  I will always fondly remember our 2010 trip to the White House!”

Coach Miller came to UMD in 1998 and immediately established the program as a national powerhouse, winning five NCAA championships since the program’s inception. In that time, she developed 28 current and former Olympians, as well as multiple national team coaches. The championship tradition of Bulldog Women’s Hockey was built with players from the United States, Canada and around the globe bringing an international community to Duluth. Coach Miller boasts a .713 winning percentage at UMD.

"I am extremely shocked and saddened by this news, as is our entire staff and team,” said Miller. “But we are committed to staying here to coach these great young women for the rest of the season and to a national championship."

A national search will take place following the 2014-15 season.
UMD is 12-5-3 this season and off until Jan. 10. Senior forward Zoe Hickel was one of the only players to chime in on Twitter Monday night.

Lots of emotions here, and understandably so. I'm in the building quite a bit, but I'm not going to claim great knowledge of the goings-on on the women's side of Amsoil Arena. That said, if you think the players aren't going to speak out in support of the person who brought them here and has been coaching them for however long, you're insane. If they don't come out and support Miller here, something is probably amiss.

Miller has always been courteous and professional in my inquiries to her over the years. I have no gripes, not that I'd necessarily share them in this forum anyway. But I don't.

(And you know me. I'd probably have said something on Twitter if I had a gripe.)

I am scheduled to visit with Josh Berlo on Thursday -- previously scheduled -- and I don't expect to hit him up any earlier than that. Duluth News Tribune noob Matt Wellens did speak both to Berlo and Miller Monday night.

Berlo interview
Miller interview

I'd suggest reading both of them. Good quotes from each party, and Matt asks just about every question I could think to ask myself. And he did it on his day off.

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