Support for Shannon; Summary of Part 5 – Model practice of student-athlete complaints.


The following are excerpts, quotes and summaries from the ‘Expert Report’ created by Donna A. Lopiano PH.D, which has been created to independently look at all of the evidence provided in the case of:  Shannon Miller, Jen Banford and Annette Wiles v The board of Regents of The University of Minnesota

All of the content in our summaries have been pulled directly from the report and are in no way opinions, conclusions or comments of the FCN.  We have simply provided our audience with a concise and shorter version of the report written by Donna A. Lopiano PH.D in the hope of raising awareness of the case.

There are 8 questions in which Donna A. Lopiano PH.D has been asked to present her findings, and over the coming few days, we will be publishing each individually for you to read.  The full 124 page report which is a public document will be available on the FCN website for all to read further.

The FCN would like to offer its full support of Shannon Miller, Jennifer Banford and Annette Wiles.  Discrimination of any coach based on their gender, sexual orientation, race or any other factor is abhorrent and we stand by those that speak out against it.  We have decided to release content from this report with the aim of raising awareness of such discrimination and to inspire other coaches who may be going through similar incidents to speak the truth.




How should parent or student-athlete complaints regarding coach conduct be handled with regard to model practice? Did you form any conclusions about these policies and practices at UMD? 


Donna A. Lopiano PH.D states very clearly that “I was not provided with a UMD athletic department  policy handbook despite my request for this document.”  After asking all three coaches if they ever received such a document “all responded negative”.


“…the absence of an athletics-specific coaching misconduct policy or professional code of ethics specific to athletics would leave student-athletes and coaches without clear knowledge of acceptable professional conduct because the UMD student conflict resolution policy lacks sufficient specificity to unprofessional behaviors commonly encountered in athletic settings.”


It is essential for both sides (athlete and coach) that clearly defining unacceptable behaviour is outlined and within this report, the following model athletics department policies and procedures were listed:

  1. coaches and other staff members should comply with a Code of Ethics
  2. athletics department employees should be designated as mandatory reports if violations of ethics code are witnessed
  3. the institution should provide ‘whistle blower protection’
  4. athletics department should conduct annual education meetings with all staff
  5. misconduct complaints should be dealt with the athletic director or trained non-athletic department compliance employee
  6. for minor misconduct, the institutions standard HR gradual escalation of disciplinary processes should be utilised
  7. the institution should be prohibited from providing the employee with legal representation during investigation or otherwise interfering with misconduct complaints
  8. serious misconduct should result in the institution convening a third party panel and a number of procedures followed


The fact that UMD did not provide a policy and procedures document and the “failure of the management” to follow the above best practices “leads [me] to conclude that UMD administrators were only interested in using student-athlete evaluations, exit interviews and complaints for the purpose of terminating the employment of these coaches rather than advancing their professional growth or properly responding to instances of coaching misconduct.”

“Misconduct should always be immediately addressed and not ‘stored up’ for an end of year conversation.”  The report states that in doing so creates an unsafe environment for athletes and its “unethical”.

Shannon, Jennifer and Annette all stated in an interview with the report author that “there was no regular observation of coaches’ pedagogy by their supervisors.” 



For more information about the mention case, please visit the following links:

Shannon Miller Interview – April 2017

Shannon Miller Interview – September 2015

Why the Shannon Miller case is so important for all women in all sports.





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