The Arizona Coyotes announced Thursday that they have renounced the rights to UND freshman hockey player Mitchell Miller after using a fourth-round draft pick to select him earlier this month.
The decision was made after more information came to light surrounding Miller's history of assault, bullying and racism from his time in junior high in Sylvania, Ohio, the Coyotes said.
Joni Meyer-Crothers, whose son, Isaiah, was the victim, wrote a letter to the Coyotes after they used a fourth-round pick on him, detailing the impact it had on Isaiah.
"We have decided to renounce the rights to Mitchell Miller, effective immediately," said Xavier Gutierrez, Arizona's President and CEO. "Prior to selecting Mitchell in the NHL Draft, we were aware that a bullying incident took place in 2016. We do not condone this type of behavior but embraced this as a teachable moment to work with Mitchell to make him accountable for his actions and provide him with an opportunity to be a leader on anti-bullying and anti-racism efforts.
"We have learned more about the entire matter, and more importantly, the impact it has had on Isaiah and the Meyer-Crothers family. 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. On behalf of the Arizona Coyotes ownership and our entire organization, I would like to apologize to Isaiah and the Meyer-Crothers family. We are building a model franchise on and off the ice and will do the right thing for Isaiah and the Meyer-Crothers family, our fans and our partners. Mr. Miller is now a free agent and can pursue his dream of becoming an NHL player elsewhere."
Coyotes new general manager Bill Armstrong said he supported the move.
"I fully support our decision to renounce Mitchell Miller's draft rights," Armstrong said. "It was a unique situation for me not being able to participate in this year's Draft and we were going through a transition with our scouting department. Mitchell is a good hockey player, but we need to do the right thing as an organization and not just as a hockey team. I'd like to apologize to Isaiah and the Meyer-Crothers family for everything they have dealt with the past few months. I wish them all the best in the future."
Miller is a freshman defenseman on UND's hockey team.