Skidmore College's men's soccer team's spring season was cancelled this week because of a team party in November.
The season was cancelled and disciplinary proceedings for 24 team members were initiated as the result of campus safety's investigation into the party, wrote college President Philip A. Glotzbach in a letter released Thursday night online. The off-campus Nov. 30 party was a "Rookie Night," and served as an informal team initiation for new players.
The college learned of the party from a confidential informant, according to a college spokesman.
Aside from noting there was underage drinking at the party, Glotzbach didn't offer any specifics about it.
“Fortunately, no students were hospitalized or suffered lasting injury. However, the potential for injury was considerable and the actions themselves inexcusable,” Glotzbach wrote.
Additionally, he argued that the event was categorized as hazing, which is a violation of a pledge that the athletes sign each year. As a result, not only has the team's spring season been cancelled, but students who participated in the hazing are barred from all spring sports this year and some soccer players will be suspended for portions of the fall season.
Athletic director Gail Cummings-Danson was out of town Friday, and not available for comment. In addition, athletic department officials still hadn’t determined how many of the soccer players would normally be involved in spring sports.
In total, the college will be disciplining 28 students.
In 2003, 14 members of the college's hockey team faced disciplinary action because of a hazing incident that cause one man to slip into an alcohol-induced state of unconsciousness.
The cancellation of the spring season is the second major setback for the soccer program. In late January, coach Ron McEachen, who won his 300th career game last fall, announced his retirement.
The spring season doesn’t include any intercollegiate contests. According to college officials, the team is allowed a certain number of practices during a five-week period, which ends with a number of teams getting together to scrimmage each other.
The college refused to release campus safety's investigative report, citing confidentiality requirements.
Saratoga Springs Police Department spokesman Lt. John Catone said the department reviewed the college's investigation earlier this week. An investigator has been assigned to the case.
Based on the college's investigation, Catone said it appears
students were only guilty of a hazing violation. Stricter charges could be warranted if violence or the threat of violence was used at the party.
"If we don't witness the violation, we can't arrest anybody without a complainant," he said.
A preliminary review of the college's report suggests the police investigation will treat this like an underage drinking incident. Catone said they will likely start by determining who purchased the alcohol and where it was bought.
Saratoga County District Attorney James A. Murphy III described the investigation as "thorough, complete and professional." He said his office's involvement will depend on the police investigation.
Glotzbach said he was heartened to see that the students admitted their actions during the Campus Safety investigation.
“They are taking responsibility for their behavior and recognizing that actions have consequences,” he wrote. “As difficult as this is for all who are directly involved in this matter, as well as for everyone who cares about Skidmore, we see evidence already that important lessons are being learned, and we are confident that the actions we are taking in the end will make us all wiser and our athletics program stronger.”
A full copy of Glotzbach's letter is available on the Around Saratoga blog at www.dailygazette.com.