MINNEAPOLIS - Shannon Miller built the University of Minnesota Duluth's hockey program and turned it into a powerhouse. With five NCAA championships under her belt the last thing she expected was to be let go.
"I'm heartbroken and I'm so disappointed that they would show me so much disrespect," Miller said.
UMD Athletic Director Josh Berlo said hard times forced them to make a hard decision. The University of Minnesota Duluth faces a $4.5 million dollar deficit.
"We're at a point where we are not able to sustain the highest paid coach in Division I hockey's salary," Berlo said
Miller's base salary this season is $215,000. Miller said she would have taken a pay cut but was never given a choice.
The Bulldog's men's head hockey coach Scott Sandelin makes $265,000 Berlo wouldn't say if Sandelin will face a pay cut but did say the university reviews all contracts as they reach an end.
Dr. Nicole LaVoi, associate director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sports, said the move doesn't make sense.
"I have never in my entire career heard of a male coach being let go because he's being paid too much. So, I'm a little bit shocked by the logic and rationale by the administration," LaVoi said.
LaVoi's research shows the number of women in college sports is growing, but the number of women head coaches has been on a steady decline. It fell from 40 percent in 2013 to 39 percent in 2014.
Miller being let go is the latest blow, according to LaVoi.
"I don't think it's good news for women and coaching. When you have a highly accomplished woman coach at a successful program with no blemishes on her record being let go for salary reasons, I think this is troubling for women coaches in general and hockey in particular," LaVoi said.
Miller told the Bulldog Hockey Blog she turned down jobs at bigger universities who offered her more money because she wanted to be with her team. She wouldn't say what her next move is only telling the blog she's dealing with her heartbroken players.