The Arizona Coyotes announced Thursday that they have renounced their rights to their 2020 top NHL draft pick Mitchell Miller after a recent report revealed he had bullied a Black classmate with disabilities.
According to the report, published by the Arizona Republic on October 26, Miller had bullied a developmentally disabled Black teen while he was in junior high school in Sylvania, Ohio, in 2016.
Miller and another teen were accused of tricking Isaiah Meyers-Crothers into eating candy that had been placed in a urinal and physically assaulting him. Miller and another teen admitted to the bullying in an Ohio juvenile court and were sentenced to community service, according to the Republic.
The athlete sent a letter to NHL teams detailing the incident and apologizing for his actions, according to Coyotes General Manager Bill Armstrong, who’s quoted in the report.
“Prior to selecting Mitchell in the NHL Draft, we were aware that a bullying incident took place in 2016,” Coyotes’ President & CEO Xavier Gutierrez said. “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.”
Armstrong said he “fully” supports the decision to renounce Miller’s draft rights.
“Mitchell is a good hockey player, but we need to do the right thing as an organization and not just as a hockey team,” Armstrong said. “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.”
Six days before the Coyotes made the decision to renounce Mitchell, the hockey player, who attends the University of North Dakota, issued a statement through the team, which was sent to the Republic.
It read: “I am extremely sorry about the bullying incident that occurred in 2016 while I was in eighth grade. I was young, immature and feel terrible about my actions.”
He continued, “At the time, I did not understand the gravity of my actions and how they can affect other people. I have issued an apology to the family for my behavior, completed cultural diversity and sensitivity training and volunteered within my community with organizations such as Little Miracles. Over the past four years, I have had a lot of time to reflect and grow and I am very grateful to the Arizona Coyotes for taking a chance on me. I promise not to let them down. Moving forward, I want to be a leader for this cause and help end bullying and racism.”
CNN has attempted to reach Miller through the University of North Dakota.
Isaiah Meyer-Crothers’ mother told the Republic that Miller has never apologized directly to her son, outside of a letter mandated by the juvenile court.
The University of North Dakota released a statement after the Arizona Republic story was released.
“We are aware of the unfortunate incident that occurred with Mitchell in eighth grade,” the school said. “We made a decision that our program could provide him the necessary infrastructure and culture to hone not only his hockey abilities but most importantly assist him in his continuing growth as a human being which will last the remainder of his life.”