Minnesota Duluth women’s basketball coach Annette Wiles resigned Monday morning after seven seasons with the Bulldogs, citing an unhealthy work environment at the university.

She is the third female head coach to leave the UMD athletic department this year following Shannon Miller, the former women’s hockey coach, and Jen Banford, who served as women’s hockey director of operations and head softball coach.

As Miller and Banford did, Wiles is expected to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. The United States Department of Justice is investigating those earlier complaints.

Wiles’ current three-year contract was set to expire on June 20. Her resignation is effective June 10.

“It’s been an incredibly tough year and although I had hoped to finish my career at UMD and raise my family in Duluth, it is no longer healthy for me to continue to work in the current UMD athletic department environment,” Wiles said in a statement released through her attorney, Justi Rae Miller.

Phone messages left for Wiles by the News Tribune were not immediately returned Monday.

Wiles led the Bulldogs to the NCAA Division II tournament twice (2010, 2012) in her seven seasons at UMD. She finishes with a 109-86 record, with her 12-15 mark in 2014-15 being her only losing season with the Bulldogs.

Wiles’ teams have gone 40-41 the last three seasons, missing the NCAA tournament each year.

The university released a brief statement on Monday afternoon, saying “Annette Wiles informed the University of Minnesota Duluth this morning that she will resign her position as women’s head basketball coach effective June 10, 2015. UMD athletics has accepted her resignation. … A search for Wiles’ replacement will begin immediately.”

According to the press release issued by Justi Rae Miller on Monday morning, UMD athletic director Josh Berlo - who did not return phone calls to the News Tribune before this story went to press - never discussed with Wiles the renewal of the coach’s contract.

But that doesn’t mean the Bulldogs were unwilling to bring Wiles back, according to UMD Director of External Affairs Lynne Williams.

Williams said coach’s contracts automatically renew unless a notice of nonrenewal is issued, and such a notice was never issued to Wiles. Williams said the university expected Wiles to return in 2015-16.

Wiles has more than 400 wins in her 22 seasons of coaching collegiate basketball. She came to UMD in 2008 following eight seasons at Fort Hays State in Kansas, signing a four-year deal. She was given a three-year extension by then-UMD athletic director Bob Nielson in 2012 after reaching the NCAA tournament for the second time in three seasons.

UMD junior forward Taylor Meyer, who will co-captain the Bulldogs next year with junior guard Taylor Dillinger, said the team wasn’t surprised to hear the announcement based on recent events involving other UMD coaches.

“It’s a little bit of a shock to actually hear it,” Meyer said. “You kind of expected it, but we’ve been kind of preparing throughout the whole spring that it could happen.

“Most of the team probably saw it coming, just how everything has played out with other coaches. Just in general, during some of her plans for her future, I didn’t see her coaching another year.”

The exodus of female head coaches at UMD started with Miller, who has publicly accused the university of discrimination based on her gender and sexual orientation. The details of Banford’s and Wiles’ complaints have not been made public.

Miller was informed in December her contract would not be renewed after 16 seasons and five national championships. Assistant coaches Laura Schuler and Gina Kingsbury also were informed their contracts would not be renewed.

Banford was informed at the same time as the rest of the hockey staff she would not be brought back as the team’s director of hockey operations. She later rejected a one-year contract offer from UMD to remain as softball coach after leading the Bulldogs to four NCAA tournament berths and a conference title in her 10 seasons.

“With the direction that UMD has taken since December, there was no way that I felt … I thought it was impossible for me to take the offer that they gave,” Banford told the News Tribune in February.

Wiles, Banford and Miller are working with the same legal team of Justi Rae Miller of the Illinois-based Miller Law Firm and Dan Siegel and Anne Butterfield Weills of Siegel & Lee in Oakland, Calif. Siegel and Weills are both civil rights attorneys.

Complaints already have been filed on behalf of Shannon Miller and Banford to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Minneapolis and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. According to Justi Rae Miller, those complaints were recently referred to the U.S. Department of Justice for Banford and Miller’s “Right to Sue” letters since the claim is against a public entity - the University of Minnesota.

Justi Rae Miller said the same course of action will be taken for Wiles.

Newsletter signup for email alerts