UMass fires men's hockey coach, women's basketball coach

  • The University of Massachusetts released women's basketball coach Sharon Dawley on Sunday with one left on her contract. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Published: 3/8/2016 4:17:47 PM

AMHERST — New University of Massachusetts athletic director Ryan Bamford will be conducting two high-profile searches simultaneously. The school announced Sunday morning in separate press releases that hockey coach John Micheletto and women’s basketball coach Sharon Dawley have been “relieved of coaching duties.” Both coaches had one year remaining on their respective contracts. Micheletto had a base salary of $210,000 and Dawley, $237,000. Both will be paid in full for 2016-17.

Neither coach could be reached for comment.

Micheletto was 39-88-13, including 20-61-10 in Hockey East in four years leading the Minutemen. The former Vermont assistant was chosen to replace Toot Cahoon after a turbulent search during which UMass interviewed and appeared to be turned down by several candidates before choosing Micheletto. He inherited a team that had one .500 season in the five years before he arrived.

The Minutemen appeared to be turning the corner after the 2014-15 season, but the optimism for the 2015-16 was doused when Frank Vatrano and Brandon Montour, who were both expected to play key roles, each turned professional.

UMass opened the 2015-16 season 4-0-1 and was 6-3-4 on Nov. 21, but the Minutemen, who battled injuries especially on defense during the second half of the season, lost 21 of their last 23 games.

Bamford, who will speak to the media on Monday, released a statement Sunday.

“On behalf of UMass Athletics, we thank John for his four years in Amherst,” Bamford said. “John worked hard to improve our hockey program and we wish him well with his future endeavors.”

He laid out broad expectations for the program’s future.

“Our expectation is to be a top contender every year in Hockey East, the premiere collegiate hockey conference,” Bamford added. “We will work aggressively to recruit a head coach to our hockey program that can realize those expectations.”

Dawley was a celebrated hire when UMass gave her a seven-year contract in 2010 after three straight 20-win seasons and back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances at Vermont.

But the Minutewomen never won more than 12 games in a season during her six years leading the program. She was 46-133 overall, including 12-18 in 2015-16.

Dawley made a late push to be retained when her young squad won its final five regular season games, beat La Salle in the Atlantic 10 Tournament first round and took Fordham to overtime before falling in the quarterfinals.

“We thank Sharon for her solid efforts on behalf of UMass women’s basketball,” Bamford said in a statement. “We wish her well personally and professionally moving forward.

“We believe that our women’s basketball program has the necessary resources to compete for Atlantic 10 Championships and national postseason play,” Bamford added. “Our expectation of building a championship-caliber program presents an exciting opportunity for our department and our next head coach.”

Matt Vautour can be reached at Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at

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