The Arizona Coyotes are renouncing their rights to top 2020 draft pick Mitchell Miller after they learned he bullied a Black classmate with disabilities in 2016.
The Arizona Republic published a story earlier this week that revealed Miller, 18, and another teen were charged with assault and violated the Ohio Safe Schools Act for their racist behavior against Isaiah Meyer-Crothers.
The Coyotes, who selected Miller in the fourth round (111th overall) of the draft on October 7, responded to the Republic’s story with a statement from team president and CEO Xavier Gutierrez, renouncing the rights to the player.
"We have decided to renounce the rights to Mitchell Miller, effective immediately," said Gutierrez in a statement.
"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 behaviour 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.”
Gutierrez continued, “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."
Miller has not released a statement. However, according to The Arizona Republic, he issued a court-mandated apology after proof was provided of his behavior in police reports, but showed a lack of remorse toward the family of the victim. In a video that was never released, Miller was reportedly “smashing Isaiah's head against a brick wall."
Isaiah’s family decided against releasing the video, fearing it would further traumatize him.