AnnMarie Gilbert, who formerly coached for women’s basketball programs at Virginia Union University and Eastern Michigan University, is now in hot water. In her latest role at the University of Detroit Mercy, a Catholic school, her abuse allegations have piled up to a point that it has disrupted the entire season. Get the sad details about the scope of the accusations in the story below.
Detroit Mercy’s women’s basketball team is cancelling the remainder of its season, and it is not due to COVID-19 issues.
A letter obtained by the Free Press and signed by 14 players and their parents was sent Sunday to Titans athletic director Robert Vowels Jr. It detailed a number of allegations of player mistreatment and potential NCAA violations by first-year coach AnnMarie Gilbert, whose time at Eastern Michigan in the last decade ended with the school being placed on probation due to infractions.
Multiple parents contacted by the Free Press confirmed the authenticity of the letter and expressed their frustrations with how Gilbert has treated their daughters over the past nine months since she was hired April 24, 2020.
“It’s been a nightmare,” said one parent, who requested anonymity Wednesday due to concerns of retribution toward their daughter. “Our girls are just not the same.”
An athletic department spokesperson responded to an email with a statement from Vowels, stating:
“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.
“As we have prioritized the needs of our student-athletes during this challenging academic year, we have decided to suspend the 2020-21 women’s basketball season.”
Gilbert has not responded to email requests for comment from the Free Press.
The letter was crafted after parents held video meetings during which they began to realize the extent of the situation. Many of them had not met together in a group this season due to pandemic restrictions, but they were “blown away by the horrific stories of utter disregard for the care and wellbeing of our student-athletes” as each detailed their daughter’s stories, according to the letter.
“Everybody had their own little things but thought it was isolated,” said another parent, who also requested anonymity Wednesday. “It makes it tough under COVID when there’s no interaction between parents – you don’t see each other at games, there’s just no connection there. Last weekend, everybody got on a Zoom and told their stories. It started real slow, and then somebody told a story and it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ And then someone else did.
“It’s like, ‘Oh, she’s just evil. She’s bad to everybody.’”
Sources told the Free Press that at a Wednesday afternoon meeting between Vowels and the team, players said they would play this weekend at Youngstown State only if Gilbert was not the coach. Vowels reportedly told them he felt the rest of the season should be canceled “unless you tell me differently” and that Detroit Mercy president Antoine M. Garibaldi had been notified of the situation. Players expressed their concern for potential backlash from the school or Gilbert if she remained or was not put on a leave of absence for an investigation into the allegations.