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UMD won't renew Miller's coaching contract

By Jon Nowacki Duluth News Tribune Minnesota Duluth women's hockey coach Shannon Miller, who led the Bulldogs to five national titles, will not have her contract extended beyond the current season, the school announced Monday night. UMD athletic ...

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UMD women's hockey coach Shannon Miller

By Jon Nowacki

Duluth News Tribune

 

Minnesota Duluth women’s hockey coach Shannon Miller, who led the Bulldogs to five national titles, will not have her contract extended beyond the current season, the school announced Monday night.

UMD athletic director Josh Berlo cited a tough financial climate for the decision. Miller is making a base salary of $215,000 for 2014-15.

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“Coach Miller was the highest paid NCAA Division I women’s hockey coach from the most recent survey data we had,” Berlo said. “UMD is not in a position to sustain that. Athletics needs to make tough decisions in tough financial times and this was one of them.”

Two assistant coaches and a part-time director of operations also will not have their contracts renewed.

Miller made $160,000 in 2008-09 before having her contract extended in 2009 and again in 2010, which was her last extension. She said she last spoke to the university about a contract extension this summer. At the time, she said she was willing to take a pay cut, but numbers were never discussed.

Berlo said the university had discussions about Miller taking a pay cut, but UMD never offered her an extension.

“Obviously I would have taken a pay cut if they would have talked to me about it,” Miller said. “Of course I would have. We’re coming out of a recession. They are making cuts at the university. Of course I would have taken a pay cut and possibly my staff would have taken one.

“I grew up in a single-parent family, I understand the budget, I understand the recession and I’m open to a win-win. I expressed that to the athletic director and the chancellor. I thought that’s what we would end up doing eventually, but there were no other conversations.”

Berlo said UMD is working through budgetary shortfalls.

“Athletics isn’t immune to that, and we had to contribute to the solution,” Berlo said.

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Miller, 51, is 375-137-48 in her 16th season as Bulldogs coach.

Miller was the Canadian women’s hockey coach in 1998, leading Team Canada to a silver medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, before arriving at UMD.

UMD won the first three NCAA Division I national titles from 2001 to 2003, as well as in 2008 and 2010. Miller, a native of Melfort, Saskatchewan, is known for being an excellent recruiter of foreign talent, helping develop 28 current and former Olympians, as well as multiple national team coaches.

UMD is currently 12-5-3 and third in the WCHA at 7-5-2 . The Bulldogs are ranked No. 6 in this week's final USCHO.com poll before Christmas and are seventh in the PairWise rankings.

Berlo said a national search will take place following the 2014-15 season.

“We’re very appreciative of coach Miller’s amazing accomplishments and what she has done here,” Berlo said. “But it was a difficult financial decision we had to make.”

UMD’s leading scorer, senior forward Zoe Hickel, questioned the timing of the announcement.

“Very distracting,” Hickel tweeted at Berlo.

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News Tribune staff reporter Matt Wellens contributed to this report.

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