Redshirt-sophomore guard Monaye Merritt says she will transfer out of the women’s basketball program, making her the third confirmed player to exit the team since April.
Since the 2012-13 season, seven student-athletes have left the university during their eligibility at Temple, including four transferring players from last season’s roster – Merritt, Brown, sophomore Meghan Roxas and Jacquilyn Jackson. Sally Kabengano, Leah Horton and May Dayan also left the team during the past two seasons.
Jackson was dismissed from the team last season after being suspended due to a violation of team rules. Brown received a suspension for a violation of team rules last fall as well, but remained on the team throughout the season.
In an interview with The Temple News, Merritt described the program as one that has been mismanaged by the coaching staff, partially due to a culture of favoritism. Brown made similar comments in an interview with The Temple News in April.
“Numbers don’t lie,” Merritt said. “So many transfers, it’s hard to say that it’s the players.”
Coach Tonya Cardoza said she is aware that Brown, Merritt and Roxas intend to transfer.
“I respect their decisions and thank each of them for their contributions to Temple Women’s Basketball,” Cardoza said in a statement. “We wish them well in their academic and athletic pursuits at their new schools.”
In an individual postseason player meeting, Merritt said Cardoza suggested the idea of the redshirt-sophomore’s transfer from the school, claiming that the incoming freshmen guards would limit playing time for her the following season. Brown said she received a similar explanation in her own meeting with the coach.
After deciding to leave Temple, Merritt said Cardoza refuted the claim that she wanted Merritt to leave and attempted to reconcile. Merritt said she didn’t think the gesture was genuine.
Merritt attributes the large number of transfers, in part, due to the coaching staff promoting a culture where personal relationships are the primary assessment of players and playing time, rather than performance. Like Brown, Merritt said that preferential treatment of players was a major factor in her decision to leave Temple.
Merritt pointed to a stretch of games in January 2014 when she believed she was not given appropriate playing time, despite her improvements after missing the prior season with a torn ACL. In back-to-back January home games against No. 7 Louisville and Central Florida, Merritt recorded career games, scoring a career-high 14 points against the Cardinals and recording nine assists against the Knights.
Following her performances against Louisville and UCF, Merritt played single-digit minutes in the next two games against South Florida and No. 1 Connecticut.
“[After the UConn game], I was getting sporadic minutes,” Merritt said. “I was never able to understand what was going on or get a feel for what she was doing.”
In the last two seasons, the Cardoza-led Owls failed to earn a winning record in the Atlantic-10 and American Athletic Conference, and since Temple’s 2009-10 NCAA tournament bid, the Owls’ season loss total has increased each year.
Merritt said she supports Temple’s administration, but that it needs to address problems with the women’s basketball team.
“I think in our program, a lot of things get swept under the rug, and they aren’t fixing it,” Merritt said.
Brien Edwards can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BErick1123.