Student Conduct overturns one-year suspension of men’s club baseball team
Published: Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 21:04
Student Conduct’s recent decision to suspend the university men’s club baseball team has been overturned. The team was previously told they were suspended from competition for one year following allegations that members of the team violated the student conduct policy earlier this fall.
Official documents state that university police responded to reports of an intoxicated student at Dickinson Hall around 2:30 a.m. on Sept. 14, 2012. The student revealed to the officers she and her friends had attended a party at the “club baseball house” on South College Avenue earlier that night.
A Student Conduct hearing held on Oct. 22 later found partygoers guilty of providing alcohol to a minor at the party, officials said.
Senior Kevin Johnson, president of the club, said the organization was being wrongfully punished for violations they did not commit.
“It just seems to me like the process has some flaws,” Johnson said.
According to official reports from a pre-hearing held on Sept. 20, the student said she had quickly consumed four shots of vodka in a friend’s room in Dickinson Hall prior to leaving for the party.
She confirmed at the pre-hearing that she had been provided at least two beers at the party from a keg before leaving at around 1 a.m. on Sept. 15.
The student also said she does not remember leaving the party and is uncertain of the amount of alcohol she consumed while there. Friends of the student who were concerned for her well-being, contacted university police after returning to Dickinson Hall.
The student later denied a statement she had previously provided to university police that she was personally invited to the party by a club member, and Johnson said he confirmed the student’s testimony in the hearing. He supported the claim with a complete team roster showing that one team member, senior Timothy Gentry, lives in a house on South College Avenue.
Gentry also gave a testimonial at the hearing, stating that no such party took place at his residence the night of Sept. 14. He said he feels the team did not deserve the suspension.
“We want to compete with the other best teams, and we feel like we’ve been wronged,” Gentry said.
Johnson submitted an official request to appeal the ruling on Nov. 14, stating the decision to suspend the team was based on inaccurate information provided the night of the incident and at the subsequent prehearing. University officials denied his appeal on Nov. 30.
Johnson said he was surprised by the university’s ruling and continued to work to correct the situation as soon as possible, since the spring season is rapidly approaching.
“We’ve got a great group of guys who just really want to play baseball and feel they have done nothing wrong to deserve this,” Johnson said. “You know, we’re out there every weekend doing something we really enjoy, causing no harm to anyone.”
Gentry, who had played for the university’s varsity baseball team until last fall when he failed to make the cut, said the original decision to suspend the team was a shocking disappointment to him as well.
“We were unable to play in the play-offs this past spring, and now with this it’s really starting to hit home,” Gentry said.
On Jan. 29, the team submitted 21 signed letters, from parents of team members, along with over 40 signed petitions from other club sports teams and endorsements from both the club baseball League President and the Regional Director to the Office of Student Conduct. It said the two sides of the story were not equally considered and the punishment was too severe for the alleged transgression.
In response, the Office of Student Conduct scheduled a meeting to address the team’s issues at the request of the office’s director, Kathryn Goldman. The meeting was originally scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 5 but was canceled that morning. Instead, a new date was set for Johnson to meet with Michael Gilbert, the Vice President for Student Life, to reach a final resolution.
Johnson said the two parties met the morning of this past Friday, where the decision to fully overturn the suspension was reached between him and Gilbert.
University officials declined to comment.
Johnson said he was happy the suspension was overturned. He said he still hopes that the club baseball team’s experience will bring attention to the student conduct process, as he believes the hearing process could be handled differently.
“With such an important ruling and such severe punishment, for only one person to make the decision it seems like it isn’t as important to them,” Johnson said. “I just hope we can fix this situation and make the whole process better.”