North Dakota Fighting Hawks remove Mitchell Miller from hockey program due to history of assault, racism

The University of North Dakota announced Friday that freshman defenseman Mitchell Miller is no longer a member of its men's hockey program, a day after the Arizona Coyotes renounced the 2020 NHL draft pick's rights due to his history of assault and racism as a juvenile.

He will remain a student at North Dakota.

Miller, 18, was selected in the fourth round of the draft (111th overall) by the Coyotes. On Oct. 26, the Arizona Republic published an extensive exposé of Miller's bullying of Isaiah Meyer-Crothers, a Black eighth-grade classmate with developmental disabilities in Sylvania, Ohio.

Miller admitted to the assault and bullying in an Ohio juvenile court four years ago. He used racial slurs against Meyer-Crothers, physically assaulted him and at one point tricked him "into licking a candy push pop that Miller and another boy had wiped in a bathroom urinal," according to a police report.

After initially standing by the pick and claiming the Coyotes were "in the best position to guide Mitchell into becoming a leader for preventing bullying and racism," president and CEO Xavier Gutierrez said on Thursday that "what we learned does not align with the core values and vision for our organization and leads to our decision to renounce our draft rights."

North Dakota also initially stood by Miller, with head coach Brad Berry telling the Grand Forks Herald that the school recruited him knowing about his history and that the program could "assist him in his continuing growth as a human being which will last him the remainder of his life."

On Friday, North Dakota President Andrew Armacost said that after "closely monitoring" the situation, the hockey program had dropped Miller.

Armacost wrote: "After much consideration and discussions with Mitchell, the Miller family, our Athletics Director, Bill Chaves, and Coach Brad Berry, I have decided that the best course of action for Mitchell and the University is that he no longer be a member of the UND Men's Hockey program. Mitchell may remain a student at UND and we will continue to support his future intellectual and interpersonal growth. We wish Mitchell well in whatever path he chooses in his future endeavors."

According to the Toledo Blade in March 2016, Miller and another student were found delinquent on counts of assault and violation of the Ohio Safe Schools Act. Miller was suspended from Sylvania Schools after meeting with court psychologists. The other eighth-grader apologized, but Meyer-Crothers said Miller never did.

Miller, who sent letters to all 31 NHL teams prior to the draft to explain the situation, also didn't apologize directly to Meyer-Crothers in a statement released by the Coyotes after the Arizona Republic story published.

"I am extremely sorry about the bullying incident that occurred in 2016 while I was in eighth grade. I was young, immature and feel terrible about my actions," Miller said.