Detroit Mercy announced on Thursday that it has suspended the women's basketball program for the remainder of the 2020-21 season, citing the "health and well-being" of its student-athletes but neglecting to expound further on its decision. However, the abrupt suspension of the season comes after 14 players and their parents signed a letter to university administration alleging first-year coach AnnMarie Gilbert inflicted abuse -- emotionally, mentally and physically -- on her players, according to The Detroit Free Press.
"The health and well-being of our student-athletes is our athletic department's top priority," Detroit Mercy athletic director Robert Vowels said in a statement. "We have talked with all players and members our women's basketball program about their concerns. We take them very seriously and will continue to review them closely."
Gilbert is in the midst of her first season coaching at the program after being hired in April 2020. She was hired away from Division II Virginia Union, where she went 135-18 in five seasons. She also coached at nearby Eastern Michigan from 2007-2012 where she won 94 total games, and served an assistant coach at Michigan State from 2002-2007.
Her success came at a price at Eastern Michigan, where she spent five seasons prior to dipping into Division II. Gilbert's tenure ended with the school being placed on probation due to infractions, and her program was accused of excessive practicing, among other violations. She resigned from her position there in 2012 and was given a two-year show-cause penalty by the NCAA.
"AnnMarie Gilbert was our first choice because of her depth of experience as a head coach at Division I, Division II and Division III and is an excellent recruiter," Vowels said in a press release announcing her hiring last year. "She has done a terrific job as head coach at Virginia Union, Eastern Michigan and Oberlin and as an assistant coach at Michigan State. Coach Gilbert and the student-athletes will strive for excellence on the court and in the classroom."
Detroit Mercy is 1-13 overall on the season and 1-9 in Horizon League play.