Sides differ on status of UMD softball coach

Minnesota Duluth softball coach Jen Banford informed her team this weekend the university will not bring her back to coach following the 2015 season.

Jen Banford
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Minnesota Duluth softball coach Jen Banford informed her team this weekend the university will not bring her back to coach following the 2015 season.
UMD officials say differently.
Banford, who is also the women’s hockey program’s director of operations, received a letter from the university on Dec. 11 stating, “Your appointment as Director of Hockey Operations/Head Softball Coach … will end on June 14, 2015.”
The letter was signed by UMD athletic director Josh Berlo. Banford received the letter the same time assistant women’s hockey coaches Laura Schuler and Gina Kingsbury were informed their contracts would not be renewed after the 2014-15 season. Earlier that week, women’s hockey head coach Shannon Miller was informed her contract would not be renewed after the 2014-15 season.
When the university announced this would be Miller and her staff’s final season in December, Berlo told the News Tribune that Banford was being retained as softball coach. On Sunday, the university said it’s still working to keep Banford in Duluth.
Bob Nygaard, assistant athletic director of communications at UMD, said the university is in the process of restructuring Banford’s contract after the director of hockey operations position was eliminated. The university wants to leave the status of that job up to the next head coach. Nygaard said the university wants Banford to remain as softball coach and there were plans prior to Sunday to discuss a new contract with her this week.
Banford told ESPNW on Sunday that she has not spoken to Berlo since she received the Dec. 11 letter, but multiple administrators at UMD confirmed to her last week she would not return as coach after the 2015 season.
“I was told I was no longer going to be the softball coach,” Banford said in the article. “To me, it’s obvious why he’s saying he’s in the process of writing a renewal, but if he wanted to give me a renewal, he would have given me that on Dec. 11.”
Berlo, who did not return calls from the News Tribune, told ESPNW, “She was only notified relative to the position of women’s hockey” and that the university is working to keep Banford as softball coach.
Banford confirmed via text message just after midnight on Sunday that she was told the university would not retain her as coach following the spring season. She later texted that she wanted to speak to her attorney Sunday morning prior to speaking further on the matter, but has not returned subsequent calls from the News Tribune.
Banford has 138 wins and 84 losses with the Bulldogs going into her 10th season at UMD. She was the 2013 NSIC Softball Coach of the Year after sharing the conference regular-season title with Minnesota State-Mankato in 2013. She has guided the Bulldogs to the NCAA Division II tournament four times (2007, 2010, 2011, 2012).

Jen Banford Non-Renewals Letter

Co-host of the Bulldog Insider Podcast and college hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune and The Rink Live covering the Minnesota Duluth men's and women's hockey programs.
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