U regents respond to discrimination charges from ex-coaches

Former UMD women's hockey coach Shannon Miller
Former UMD women's hockey coach Shannon Miller.
Derek Montgomery for MPR News 2015

The University of Minnesota Board of Regents has made an initial response to discrimination charges alleged by former Duluth women's hockey coach Shannon Miller.

Miller and two other former coaches at UMD — former softball coach Jen Banford and ex-basketball coach Annette Wiles — filed a discrimination lawsuit against the university in September 2015.

They allege they lost their jobs because they're female and gay. The lawsuit also alleges that the university unlawfully retaliated against the women for reporting they were harassed by co-workers. And they claim retaliation for advocating for equal funding for women's sports.

In an 11-page statement filed in federal district court this week, the Board of Regents denies discriminating or retaliating against the coaches.

The board noted that Miller was the highest paid Division I women's hockey coach in the country, yet UMD has not qualified for the NCAA Tournament in five years.

"Indeed, the worst four years of Miller's career were the four seasons prior to the non-renewal of her contract," the statement read.

It also pointed out that Miller's replacement, Maura Crowell, is also a gay woman.

The three coaches have estimated their damages at $18 million — $8 million for Miller, and $5 million each for Banford and Wiles.

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