Minnesota-Duluth women’s coach Shannon Miller will serve a one game suspension to open the 2003-04 season. The decision was made by the WCHA and the league’s Executive Committee.
According to the WCHA, the suspension comes as a result of “unsportsmanlike conduct” during the league’s Final Five tournament in March 2003. Miller will miss the season opener at Minnesota State on Oct. 10.
The WCHA handbook explains the suspension as follows:
“A coach may not have contact or communication with the institution’s team and institution’s personnel and coaches two hours before and two hours after competition and cannot be present in the involved playing venue for the designated number of contests, but may conduct practice sessions.”
Miller, who has directed the Bulldogs to all three NCAA Division I Championships since the tournament began in 2001, told the Duluth News Tribune the suspension was for inadvertently knocking on the hotel room door of a Minnesota women’s player early in the morning of March 8 prior to the WCHA Championship between her team and the Gophers in Grand Forks, N.D.
Miller said she was looking for WCHA associate commissioner Sara Martin to report the details of an incident that took place earlier in the evening, and that she had been given the wrong room information.
“I knocked on the last door on the left and a young woman came to the door, obviously not Sara Martin,” Miller told the News Tribune. “I said sorry.”
Miller said that she was looking for a game tape of the Minnesota-Wisconsin semifinal and that the tape had been promised to her by WCHA officials.
“We were promised we would have it by 7 p.m.,” Miller said. “Then they promised it by 9:30 … The official person from the WCHA told two of my staff on two different occasions that he personally would make sure to get the game tape.”
According to Miller, it was while combing the hotel in search of the tape that she overheard a conversation among people working for the WCHA that upset her, and when she went to report it to Martin, that was when she knocked on the wrong door.
“I would like the focus to be on the events that actually occurred, not me accidentally knocking on the door,” Miller added. “I’m a little in shock given the situation. We were the victims, not the accused. I have no choice but to accept their decision. I think it speaks volumes about people who made the decisions.”
Miller said that the WCHA provided her with the tape she was looking for at 1:15 a.m. The Bulldogs went on to defeat Minnesota for the WCHA Championship, 5-3.
According to the News Tribune, Miller has filed an appeal of the suspension, asking for an independent investigation by someone outside of the conference and saying that she did not realize that the woman who came to the door on which she knocked was a Gopher player until she was told the next day by Bob Corran, then athletic director at UMD.
WCHA officials were unavailable for comment.