WCHA associate commissioner Sara Martin affirmed that written league policy did not guarantee Minnesota-Duluth coach Shannon Miller a tape of the Minnesota-Wisconsin semifinal during the women’s WCHA Final Five tournament in March, despite Miller’s claims last week that she had been victimized by league officials after waiting until 1:15 a.m. the morning of the final to receive the tape.
Miller was suspended last week by the WCHA for her actions during the tournament, the details of which are still in question.
Miller told the Duluth News-Tribune that she had been seeking Martin to complain about the league’s failure to provide her with the tape, when she accidentally knocked on the door of a sleeping Minnesota player. Miller said that action resulted in the one-game suspension for unsportsmanlike conduct. She said that, given the circumstances, she was stunned to receive the suspension.
“We were the victims, not the accused,” Miller said to the News-Tribune.
But Martin said the tournament manual specifies that game tapes are provided only to the two participating teams of each game. She said that prior to Miller’s complaints, no team in the Final Five had received a tape for a game in which it did not participate.
According to Martin, Minnesota received a game tape of UMD’s semifinal game versus Ohio State from the night before at around noon the next day, seven hours before the WCHA final between the two teams.
“We ended up getting Minnesota a tape of the Duluth game to make it fair,” Martin said.
Martin said that a communication breakdown led to Miller’s complaint.
“There was confusion,” Martin said. “Duluth had asked for a tape. Although it was contrary to the policy, we had tried to get a tape and couldn’t. They were told yes at some point, and somehow communication broke down and they didn’t get the message that there wasn’t a tape until late.”
Martin said the league voted back in April to change the videotape policy of the first four WCHA tournaments. Next year, all four teams that advance to the league semifinals will receive tape from both semifinal games. As before, the top seed will not receive a tape of the game between the four and five seeds.
Miller filed an appeal of the suspension, which was denied back in April, according to Martin. She said Miller was notified of this at the time, but a public release was not made until July, for no particular reason.
Miller told the News-Tribune that she had asked for an independent group to investigate the league’s actions during the Final Five. Martin confirmed that such an investigation was ongoing, but it would have no effect on Miller’s one-game suspension.
Martin also said the league is investigating more with regards to Miller than her actions during the Final Five.
“We actually are looking into a couple of things that may or may not have happened, really not specific to this,” Martin said.
Martin did not agree with Miller’s view that a suspension was being handed out for accidentally knocking on a door.
“I think we have differing views on what happened,” Martin said.
Miller was out of her office on a recruiting trip for the week and could not be reached for comment.