By Marcel Vander Wier
The head coach of the UPEI Panthers men’s basketball team has resigned.
Matthew Davies, 33, stepped down Friday, leaving the team after five seasons at the helm.
Calls by The Guardian to Davies and UPEI athletics director Ron Annear were not returned.
Third-year forward Mike Hardy said Davies called a player’s meeting on Friday, where he made the announcement.
“It came as a bit of a shock to me,” Hardy said Sunday night.
Even as the team struggled through an injury-plagued season, the coach’s commitment “never wavered,” said Hardy.
“He was fully committed to the program. It’s a blow whenever you lose someone that was that committed. He was just a student of the game. He loved it.”
Hardy said he owes much of his basketball success to his coach’s guidance over the past three seasons.
The six-foot-six Summerside native will not be back next season, due to a string of six concussions over his playing career at the university.
Since 2006, Davies guided the Panthers to an overall record of 38-62 in play in the Atlantic University Sport conference.
The club made the playoffs four times under his watch, but failed to play in the postseason this year, when they placed seventh with a 7-13 record.
The Halifax native joined UPEI in July 2006, following four years as an assistant coach at McGill and one season with St. Francis Xavier, where he won a CIS national championship.
News reports out of St. Catharines, Ont., had Davies in the running for the top coaching post at Brock University, but that position was filled internally last month.