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Detroit Mercy Coach Leaves Months After Team Quit

Brock Fritz

Months after the entire Detroit Mercy women’s basketball team quit, former head coach AnnMarie Gilbert has moved on from the university.

The university announced Tuesday that Gilbert “left the university” and that assistant coach LaTanya Collins has been named the interim head coach. Athletic director Robert Vowels Jr. told the Detroit Free Press that Gilbert’s departure was an “HR personnel matter,” saying it wasn’t student-athlete related or due to NCAA violations.

Detroit Mercy’s 2020-21 women’s basketball season was canceled in January with 10 games remaining in the regular season. The Titans were 1-13 when 14 players and their parents signed a letter to Vowels detailing Gilbert mistreated her players. The athletes, who alleged that Gilbert created a toxic environment and emotionally abused the players, said they would only play if Gilbert was no longer the head coach. The players’ letter also said that NCAA violations were committed due to the amount of hours the team practiced.

"I have so many emotions swirling around in my head," former player Maxine Moore, who has been in the transfer portal twice since Vowels told her she was no longer welcome to play on the team, told the Free Press Tuesday. "It's been such a difficult time for me. I'm just grateful that hopefully no other student-athletes have to endure what my teammates and I did, at least at Detroit Mercy. 

"I'm just thankful for my teammates for being courageous and brave enough to standing together and tell our truth. But it's still kind of upsetting to know that we're still being called liars." 

Related: Detroit Mercy Women’s Basketball Quits Over Abuse

Gilbert, who was hired in April 2020, was never suspended or placed on administrative leave. The school announced in April that it intended to keep Gilbert on staff. The Free Press reported in May that a university investigation into the players’ letter found that “the most serious allegations were found to be false and unsubstantiated.” The allegations included that Gilbert disregarded COVID-19 protocol, ignored coronavirus symptoms and forced players to practice while hurt.

“That was not substantiated,” Vowels said. “Injuries occurred, but they were properly addressed. No player ever — I repeat, ever — played who hadn't been cleared to play on the daily injury sheet.”

The January letter, which was reported on by the Free Press, included the following allegations:

• Players being told by Gilbert to not tell trainers if they believed they were injured, which “created a toxic environment in which players are afraid to honestly communicate their injuries and illnesses to the athletic trainer” Mike Miller. It is alleged Gilbert told them “if your bone isn't sticking out, you need to be giving something.” Those injuries included concussions, plantar fasciitis, bone bruises, fractures and migraines, and players allegedly were “coerced and guilted into competing” while hurt;

• Demands by Gilbert that players “disregard or not report” COVID-19 symptoms if they felt sick on game days;

• Violations of NCAA rules that require athletes and teams not exceed 20 hours of countable athletically related activities per week;

• Players “being directed to do extra workouts as a sign of commitment” to the program, with those who are not getting significant game action being required to do those on off days or after the four-hour daily NCAA practice limit;

• Gilbert telling players they were “not being committed to the success of the program” by prioritizing academics over basketball;

• Forcing players to drop or bypass classes that interfered with the daily noon-3 p.m. practice time, including labs needed to graduate that are only offered by UDM between 2-5 p.m. one day a week.

Related: Detroit Mercy: Women’s Coach Didn’t Ignore COVID Risks

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