Greg Gould has resigned as head coach of the UPEI Panthers women’s basketball team.
The university made the announcement in a news release at 9 p.m. Wednesday after Gould informed his players of the decision. Gould said he stepped down for professional reasons, but he’s not taking another job and he and his family are healthy.
“Anytime you leave a coaching position it’s the players, that’s where the difficult part in leaving is,” Gould told The Guardian. “Every individual player there is special to me and those are the memories I will carry with me.”
Gould made a big impact on the Panthers.
"I'm absolutely heartbroken," Laura Power said on Twitter. "The best coach I've had in years."
She shared a story with The Guardian in February about how Gould saw some of the girls studying for an exam and decided to take them for ice cream as a study break.
“The little things like that, knowing that your coach supports the effort that you’re putting in both on and off the court is really important,” she said at the time.
Gould, a Moncton native, guided the team to one of its best seasons in recent memory in 2013-14, his second at UPEI.
When Gould took over the program in the summer of 2012, the Panthers had won four games during the previous four seasons combined, including a pair of winless campaigns.
They went 6-14 in 2012-13 and 9-11 this past season and earned a playoff spot.
The Panthers hosted the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) championship and lost in overtime to St. F.X. in the semifinal.
Gould said when he took over the team his goal was to make UPEI an AUS contender.
“He’s done just that,” said UPEI athletics and recreation director Bill Schurman. “UPEI athletics and recreation, and especially his team, will miss his experience and dedication to the program.”
Gould said he told 10 players in person Wednesday night and informed the rest of the players as well. He said there were tears and a lot of hugs.
“As I told them, ‘let’s try to make it more of a celebration than a wake. I’d rather celebrate our success together and look forward to the future.’”
Gould said he was proud of how the student-athletes excelled on the court, in the classroom and in the community.
“It’s an outstanding group of young women,” he said, noting six were academic all-Canadians and five more were on the cusp of making it this year.
Gould thanked his assistants and the support staff for their dedication as well as the support from members of the booster club and the public. He also thanked former athletics director Ron Annear for giving him the chance to coach the Panthers.
UPEI will begin its search for a replacement immediately and plans to have a job description posted through local and national channels within the coming days. Gould’s last official day as head coach is June 20.