Mitchell Miller has lost his second hockey team in as many days.
A day after the Arizona Coyotes announced they were renouncing their rights to their fourth-round pick, the University of North Dakota announced that Miller would no longer be a member of their program either. Miller will be allowed to remain at North Dakota as a student.
Both moves come in the aftermath of a story from the Arizona Republic that revealed Miller was convicted in juvenile court for bullying a Black, developmentally disabled teen in 2016. Both the Coyotes and North Dakota were reportedly aware of that history when they chose to add Miller to their hockey teams.
North Dakota president Andrew Armacost announced the decision on Friday, taking responsibility for the decision after consulting with Miller, his family, athletic director Bill Chaves and head coach Brad Berry:
Message from President Armacost concerning UND Student-Athlete pic.twitter.com/LHnE3Or2RM
— U of North Dakota (@UofNorthDakota) October 30, 2020
“I have been closely monitoring the situation concerning men’s hockey student-athlete Mitchell Miller, who was involved in a situation as a youth in 2016. We expect our students to live by our values in the classroom, in the community and when representing the university on the field of play,” the statement said.
Armacost told the Grand Forks Herald that the timing of the Coyotes’ decision had nothing to do with his own decision.
Miller’s name was struck from North Dakota’s roster soon after the announcement, and his player page is no longer on the program’s site. He is currently a freshman at Grand Forks and will be allowed to retain his scholarship for the academic year due to NCAA guidelines.
Mitchell Miller admitted he repeatedly bullied classmate
According to the Republic, Miller admitted in Ohio juvenile court four years ago that he repeatedly bullied Isaiah Meyer-Crothers, an African American classmate with developmental disabilities.
Among the worst offenses was a reported incident in which Miller and a friend tricked Meyer-Crothers into licking a piece of candy that they had wiped on a bathroom urinal. Meyer-Crothers then had to be tested for hepatitis, HIV and and various other sexually transmitted diseases. The tests came back negative. Meyer-Crothers’ mother claimed her son had the mental ability of a 10-year-old at the time.
Meyer-Crothers, now 18, said Miller taunted him, physically assaulted him and constantly called him racial slurs for years. Police reportedly corroborated the latter allegation with the boys’ classmates.
From the Republic:
“He pretended to be my friend and made me do things I didn’t want to do,” Meyer-Crothers said to the Republic. “In junior high, I got beat up by him. … Everyone thinks he’s so cool that he gets to go to the NHL, but I don’t see how someone can be cool when you pick on someone and bully someone your entire life.”
The situation eventually resulted in Miller and the other boy involved in the urinal trick admitting to bullying misdemeanors and being sentenced to 25 hours of community service. They were also reportedly ordered to write an apology to Meyer-Crothers.
Meyer-Crothers’ mother reportedly said in a letter obtained by The Athletic that while the other boy broke down in tears while apologizing personally, no apology ever came from Miller until this week. She added that Miller had been taunting her son as recently as two years ago.
However, Miller did apologize ... to NHL teams as he went through the draft process. The Coyotes ended up taking him with the 111th pick of the 2020 NHL draft. The team initially stuck by Miller, releasing an apology from the player and saying they hope he uses his platform to raise awareness about bullying.
Days later, the Coyotes released Miller, followed by North Dakota. It’s unclear where Miller goes from here, but he’ll probably have to find a new college if he thinks he can continue his hockey career.
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