Detroit Mercy cancels women's basketball season after abusive coach allegations surface

The University of Detroit Mercy canceled the women’s basketball season after the players called foul on Coach Annmarie Gilbert.

Allegations regarding the UDM coach stretch back to the beginning of the season.  Parents say they thought the problems were isolated to just their own student-athletes.

It wasn’t until all of the parents were on a Zoom call recently they learned all of the players had issues with the coach.

"She was in the building we were told, on Wednesday and 14 girls went up to (Athletic Director) Mr. Vowels and said, 'We will not play for her. we don’t want to be around her.' They stood together," said one parent.

Their parents wrote a letter to Athletic Director Robert Vowels Sunday saying "It has become painfully obvious that our young women are suffering emotional, mental and physical abuse under the leadership of their head coach Annmarie Gilbert"

"(She) belittled student-athletes for being injured, for having a concussion," a parent said. "We had one girl who was told to quit limping. She found out she has a stress fracture now."

FOX 2 spoke with one of the parents who wished to remain anonymous, he claims Coach Gilbert instructed players to not report if they had COVID-19 symptoms on game days and that she also violated other NCAA rules. 

"Complete and total abuse of CARA hours: these are hours mandated by the NCAA," the parent said. "They have been in the gym way more than they should have been in the gym.

Gilbert, who took the helm of the Detroit Mercy program last April, resigned from her head coach position at Eastern Michigan in 2012 after an internal investigation unearthed a number of NCAA violations including exceeding practice hour limits.

FOX 2 reached out to Coach Gilbert for comment but received no response.

Parents and players want her fired.

FOX 2: "If the coach is not removed does your daughter stay at U-D Mercy?"

"I don’t think so," the parent said. "No way and I think that would probably be across the board."

"I’m a proud Titan so to see and hear about what’s transpiring there is kind of like well let me look a little closer," said Kandace Evans.

Evans, a Detroit Mercy alum who played for the team from 2004 to 2008, spoke about the allegations.

"A lot of times athletes, we want to be tough, we want to be, 'Oh I can handle this,'" Evans said. "We want to sweep stuff under the rug, but you have to be able to decipher between being taken advantage of, as well as just not being cared for properly."

Detroit Mercy Athletic Director Robert Vowels  released a statement reading in part:

"The health and well-being of our student-athletes is our athletic department's top priority. We have talked with all players and members of our women's basketball program about their concerns. we take them very seriously and will continue to review them closely." 

While the school is not confirming it, we are told the athletic director will be meeting with the compliance director sometime next week about the allegations.