Men's soccer team's spring season canceled due to hazing: Disciplinary action underway

Posted by Rebecca Orbach

The College has canceled the men's soccer team's spring season due to issues of hazing and underage drinking that occurred on "Rookie Night," an off-campus event that took place the night of Nov. 30, 2012.

Disciplinary proceedings against 24 of the 28 team members and four non-team members are underway. According to Dan Forbush, Executive Director of Communications at the College, the 24 team members were all at the Nov. 30 event and the four non-team members are students who were otherwise involved in hazing and underage drinking.

In addition to the cancelation of the spring season, men's soccer players found to be involved in the Nov. 30 incident will be barred from all spring sports, and many team members face suspensions for substantial portions of the fall season as well.

All students involved are subject to further disciplinary review as part of the student conduct process.

"Hazing and violations of Skidmore's alcohol and drug policy result in sanctions ranging from warning, censure and fines, to participation in educational programs, and may include suspension from the residence halls. Repeated violations may result in suspension or expulsion from the College," Forbush said.

College officials say they were made aware of the Nov. 30 event by a confidential source who was made uncomfortable by the drinking and hazing.

The investigation began in earnest, Forbush said, when student returned from winter break in January.

The verdict to cancel the spring season was a collective decision made by the Office of Student Affairs and the Athletics Department.

The spring season is a nontraditional season consisting of five weeks of practice and two days of games. During the five-week period there are 16 practice sessions, a day of round-robin tournaments and an annual alumni game, all of which have been canceled.

The events that occurred the night of Nov. 30 were "chiefly drinking games involving a lot of peer pressure. That aspect of peer pressure is what makes it hazing," Forbush said.

The college defines hazing as: "Any action or situation that involves the forced consumption of alcohol or drugs for the purpose of initiation into or affiliation with any organization."

"If injury results from [hazing], it becomes a misdemeanor under New York State law. If no injuries result, it's a violation. We don't know what, if any, action Saratoga Springs Police will take. We've provided them the results of our investigation and are cooperating fully with them," Forbush said.

Though college officials say the potential for injury was high, no students were hospitalized or seriously harmed.

All student athletes sign a pledge at the beginning of each athletic season promising to abstain from all forms of hazing. This contract makes it clear that "The Department opposes any situation created intentionally to produce mental or physical discomfort."

"[Athletes] are public ambassadors for the College; as such, we expect them to represent Skidmore at its very best. In failing to honor that pledge, the students in question have not only endangered a number of their fellow students but also threatened the core values that bind and undergird our entire community," Philip Glotzbach, President of the College, said in his Feb. 21 email to the College.

Despite the players' actions, the College has expressed its gratitude to them for handling the situation responsibly and taking accountability for their actions.

"As concerned as we are by the lack of leadership and judgment demonstrated by team members in this incident, we must acknowledge the maturity they have shown in the course of Campus Safety's investigation. They are taking responsibility for their behavior and recognizing that actions have consequences," Glotzbach's Feb. 21 email said.

Glotzbach also praised Ronald McEachen, head soccer coach, and Gail Cummings, Director of Athletics, for handling the situation in a mature and timely manner. McEachen referred comment to Dan Forbush.

"We know how painful this is, not only for students involved, but for their parents and others who care about Skidmore Athletics. We take a lot of pride in our sports programs and in student athletes, but we felt this was an action we had to take based on what the investigation discovered. The safety of our students is our highest priority," Forbush said.

SSPD Lt. John Catone said the department only received the file on Wednesday, Feb. 20 and will likely begin their investigation early next week.

"If we determine a crime has been committed, legal action is possible against anyone involved," Catone said.

District Attorney James A. Murphy III's office referred comment to the Saratoga Springs Police Department.

Members of the men's soccer team have declined to comment and Campus Safety has refused to share any information beyond what was said in Glotzbach's Feb. 21 email.


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