THE BLADE Enlarge | Buy This Photo
BOWLING GREEN -- About this time each year, Simone Eli and her teammates on the Bowling Green State University women's basketball team would start to hear the speculation.
The speculation followed their coach, Curt Miller, who had lifted the Falcons to a spot among the elite programs in the Mid-American Conference and annually would be rumored to be leaving BG to take another job.
On Wednesday the speculation became fact as Miller announced he was resigning as head coach of the Falcons to take a similar position at Indiana.
Eli said the team found out in a morning meeting at BG that she described as "emotional."
"[Miller] sat everyone down and said, 'There isn't a script for this,' " said Eli, a junior from Genoa. "He was emotional, the team was emotional, the assistant coaches were emotional.
"It was difficult to hear, but we're happy for him. It's a great opportunity for him to be in the Big Ten."
Miller leaves after 11 seasons, during which BG had a 258-92 overall record and a 135-41 mark in Mid-American Conference play. The Falcons have won an unprecedented eight-straight MAC divisional titles over the last eight seasons, with seven outright league regular-season crowns.
This past season the Falcons finished with a 24-7 overall record and were 14-2 in MAC play to win the league's regular-season title. Bowling Green lost in the semifinals of the MAC tournament and played in the Women's National Invitation Tournament, losing a first-round game to VCU.
That berth in the WNIT marked BG's eighth consecutive national postseason appearance. The Falcons made trips to the NCAA Championships in three consecutive years from 2005-07 and back-to-back appearances in 2010 and 2011.
The 2007 squad won two games to advance to the Sweet Sixteen, the only squad in MAC women's basketball history to reach that level. BGSU participated in the WNIT in 2008, 2009, and this season.
THE BLADE Enlarge | Buy This Photo
Miller is the third-winningest coach in MAC women's basketball history in league games, and ranks second in MAC annals in overall games. He was the fastest MAC coach to both 200 and 250 overall wins, and the second-fastest coach in league annals to reach 100 MAC wins.
"It was hard to leave Bowling Green," Miller said during his introductory press conference in Bloomington, Ind. "We had done some remarkable things there. But this opportunity is a great fit."
At Indiana Miller replaces Felisha Legette-Jack, who was fired March 12 after six seasons with the Hoosiers. Indiana was 6-24 last season and won a total of 29 games the last three years. Legette-Jack's overall record with the Hoosiers was 87-113.
Miller agreed to a six-year contract at Indiana with a starting salary of $275,000 per year. His base salary at BGSU was $160,124 thanks to a contract that extended through June, 2016.
"It's a bittersweet day for BG athletics," athletics director Greg Christopher said via phone from Denver, where he is taking part in the NCAA women's basketball Final Four.
"From a Bowling Green standpoint I hate to see him go, for what he has done with our women's basketball program is remarkable. The standard of excellence has been established in his more than a decade [in BG]."
While Christopher obviously was disappointed to lose one of his top coaches, he said he was "absolutely thrilled" for Curt personally.
"We've talked enough over the last few years to know this was really the type of opportunity that was a goal for Curt," Christopher said. "Perhaps it was the only type of opportunity that might have pulled him away from Bowling Green.
"Indiana is a first-rate institution. They have the resources to be successful on a national stage and on a higher level and the recruiting base is right in Curt's wheelhouse. This is a great fit for both Indiana and for Curt and I'm sure he's going to do great things for Indiana basketball."
Eli said she and the rest of the BG players had no animosity toward Miller for leaving.
"When you're a great coach, [you get] great opportunities," Eli said. "He gets a chance to fulfill a dream that he has always had. I think everyone in the program understands that and respects that."
Christopher said Indiana's courtship of Miller began in the last week.
"It was probably just over a week ago that Fred Glass, Indiana's athletics director, reached out to me," Christopher said.
"They had, obviously, done their homework and had Curt on their short list of candidates."
Christopher said the school will conduct a national search for Miller's successor, but one of the best candidates for the job already may be on campus: Associate head coach Jennifer Roos, who served as Miller's top assistant for all 11 seasons he was at BG.
"I've spoken with Jennifer," Christopher said. "We've had this type of conversation really the last few years when Curt has been a candidate at other places. I believe we're on the same page, and she knows exactly where she stands.
"In short, I think the world of Jennifer. … I fully expect her to be a finalist and in the mix. She also needs the credibility of going through a complete search process, because I think she understands we've got to have that goal of finding the best head coach for BGSU women's basketball."
Christopher said he had no deadline to complete the search. "We are going to move as quickly as we can, but finding the right person is the higher priority," he said.
Contact John Wagner at: email@example.com, 419-724-6481, or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.