PEMBROKE —Ben Miller, the head men’s basketball coach at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, has resigned from his post effective immediately as of Saturday.
Miller had been placed on a leave of absence since Nov. 4 and met with the team Saturday morning to inform the team of his resignation.
“Unfortunately, I will no longer be part of this team as head coach, but I will be the biggest fan,” Miller said in a letter sent to The Robesonian. “This may have been the most difficult meeting of my life. I told them I loved ‘em, and I apologized that some of my shortcomings have caused me to part ways with UNCP. I am currently addressing personal challenges with mental health and substance abuse.”
The athletic department had no comment on the resignation, stating it was personnel. Assistant coach Tony Jones, who had been standing in as head coach, has been named interim coach.
Miller was hired before the 2008-2009 season and was a part-time lecturer in the physical education department on top of his coaching duties.
“I absolutely love this university and it is the most unique and special place I’ve been in 30 years attending and working at colleges and universities,” Miller said. “Thank you for 11-plus years as your basketball coach at UNCP. I have been blessed to work with and for so many special people here.”
The leave caused Miller to miss the first six games of the season as the Braves ran off to a 5-1 start and currently are ranked inside the top 25 poll.
Because of his struggles with mental health and substance abuse, Miller said he hopes his team and others can learn from its affects.
“I told my kids and our players that maybe they could learn from my mistakes and avoid the pitfalls of substance abuse,” he said. “I want to apologize to you all for my weakness and challenges I have created as a result.”
Miller resigns as the winningest coach in program history with 199 wins. In his letter, Miller stated he appreciated the patience of the fan base and the university as his tenure got off to a rough start before its recent run of success.
“You were all patient and supportive during those early years of 6- and 9-win seasons before we made the breakthrough in 2011 with our first NCAA tournament team,” the letter reads. “Since then, we’ve been fortunate to get back to the tournament five more times and win two conference championships. You are an important part of the success both on and off the court, where we have been able to graduate over 90% of our players completing eligibility.”
The statement went on to thank the countless assistant coaches, trainers and support staff he worked with during his tenure with the program. And also said how the network of former players will, “always be family to me.”
Miller also encouraged fans to continue to support the team this season.
“I hope you will all join me in supporting our team this year,” Miller said. “The 2019-2020 Braves basketball team and I know you will love watching them play and compete for another PBC championship, our first regional championship and who knows?”
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.