AnnMarie Gilbert was a rising force in the MAC but now her career hangs in the balance after her resignation. (Photo credit: Jason Miller-US PRESSWIRE)
Let's see if I got this straight. Eastern Michigan women's basketball comes off one of its most successful seasons. They made the NCAA tournament for the first time in eight years and survived a top-heavy-deep MAC Tournament. Tavelyn James locks up perhaps the most storied career in the program's history but EMU brings back two players as juniors (Natachia Watskins and Olivia Fouty) that set themselves up quite well for another run at it. Not anymore.
And then head coach AnnMarie Gilbert resigns abruptly. Now the program is not only lacking in a coach, but a dim cloud that remained dormant for 18 months might be reforming.
My first reaction was that, oh, she's aligning herself to take the Michigan job, just 15 minutes down the road from Ypsilanti. After all, ex-Wolverines coach Kevin Borseth strangely went to Green Bay, his alma mater, which is a totally sublateral move. Perhaps he was tired of all the offensive rebounds.
If you go by the "resignation" process, Curt Miller technically resigned his job at BGSU to take the Indiana job. But we've heard nothing on this job prospect front for Gilbert all day — and that's not to say it can't happen, but now it seems unlikely even if she was a viable candidate just 24 hours ago.
Now it's all speculation but most people are pointing toward the NCAA violations EMU committed in 2010 when her team practiced for too many hours a week. This appeared to be a minor thing at the time where, OK, she was suspended a month in the offseason, had to do some extra paperwork, attend a class, and some of her assistants were suspended. A glorified teachable moment in NCAA bylaws. The postmortem to the story was supposed to be that the more heavily penalized assistant, Darin Thrun, took an equal but less prestigious position at Saginaw Valley State last season. The other penalized assistant, LaTonya Tate, remains with the program and I can only imagine she is the interim head coach.
Now because the EMU release on the resignation directly mentioned the 2010 violations and the cliché "investigation is ongoing" phrase then I have to think there's something to it. But what more could have possibly happened? It's curious that Gilbert brought this to light by resigning and falling on her sword rather than fighting the quiet battle but maybe that's a tacit admission of guilt that she was still violating NCAA bylaws. I hope not.
Now if this were a school other than EMU and/or a sport other than women's basketball you'd have dozens of sportswriters combing through PDFs and connecting the dots, but unfortunately all we have are basically the Eagle Totem blog, maybe AnnArbor.com and a couple of statewide people tasked with writing up MAC news who look at it briefly then will move on to the next thing.
If the NCAA finds something, we'll know. If not ... I hope EMU is able to provide some answers to all of us, because we're all curious as hell.