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Dayton Questions Termination Of UMD Hockey Coach

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - On Tuesday, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton added his name to a list of state lawmakers protesting the University of Minnesota-Duluth's decision to terminate the contract of the women's hockey coach.

Shannon Miller's contract was not renewed for next year. The UMD says its decision was based on Miller's salary, and recent team performance.

Over 16 years, Shannon Miller led UMD women's hockey to five national championships and developed 26 Olympic players.

So UMD's decision not to renew her contract for "budget reasons" caught lawmakers' attention.

"That just leaves more questions," Sen. Katie Sieben, DFL-Hastings, said. "What were the reasons why she was let go? I'm not really sure."

Thirteen Democratic state senators joined Dayton in signing a letter questioning the reasoning behind the termination to University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler and UMD Chancellor Lendley Black.

Miller is well compensated as the UMD women's coach, but not as well as the men's coach.

She earns $207,000; he is paid $267,000.

Miller claims "gender discrimination," and she told the Toronto Globe and Mail she is gay:

"I feel they had other reasons," she said. "I can't speculate on them, but I just know how I've been treated."

But UMD is defending its decision, telling lawmakers the termination "had nothing to do with gender or sexual orientation," only the team's performance, which, it said, "declined significantly in recent years."

State lawmakers say they not threatening state funding to the university.

"We'd like a clear explanation from the university as to why the coach was let go," Sieben said.

The UMD also said Tuesday that it will conduct a national search for the Bulldogs' next women's hockey coach.

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