Washington College lacrosse coach Terry Corcoran said yesterday that he allowed Shoremen players of legal drinking age to bring beer aboard the team bus on two occasions in the past four years. Corcoran and athletic director Geoff Miller also said they let players drink at certain social functions after games.
However, Shoremen senior midfielder Steve Klein said underage players drank beer at the social functions and that both Miller and Corcoran were aware of it.
"We've had those little social events afterward ever since I was a freshman," Klein said. Miller "would see me with a bottle in my hand then, and I wouldn't try to hide it. No one would. It wasn't like we were out to get drunk, but just out to have a couple of social beers."
Corcoran said he allowed drinking by players who were 21 or older if the team was attending a reception that was given by family, alumni or friends, or if he gave permission for beer to be brought onto the team bus after a road game.
Several parents and players said yesterday that the frequent drinking contributed to the suspension of 10 lacrosse players, including Klein, who were caught drinking in a van by Corcoran Feb. 16 in North Carolina as they headed for a scrimmage that day against the University of North Carolina.
Last week, Washington College announced that the 10 players had been suspended after an incident Feb. 17, following a scrimmage against Duke. That day, the North Carolina Highway Patrol stopped the van carrying the players after it was clocked going 93 mph in a 65-mph zone.
The Highway Patrol said the driver's blood-alcohol level was .10 percent, the minimum for being considered driving while impaired. The Highway Patrol also said that 24 empty cans of beer were in the van, along with four unopened 12-packs.
Washington College assistant coach Bob Martino said Corcoran considered suspending the 10 players for "only a couple of games," but after the second incident Corcoran decided to suspend the players for the season.
Several parents have expressed disappointment with the severity of the penalty, saying drinking had become "a social event" at the school. They also said they were concerned about players' being allowed to drive the school's vans without supervision.
Corcoran said yesterday that he allowed beer on the team buses two years ago after Washington played Roanoke, and last season after a road game against Hobart. Several players said two cases were permitted on the bus after the Hobart game.
"Our policy on drinking after a game is this: If the team stays together after a game and attends a reception, the captains VTC have to ask my permission if the older kids can drink," Corcoran said. "If we're on the road, the captains have to again ask. Sometimes I give it; sometimes I don't. On the bus, I guess it's been two times in the last four years, if that much.
"Those 10 kids were suspended because of our training rules, which prohibit a player from drinking from the first day we open in February and before any scrimmages," said Corcoran, whose team has been a powerhouse in Division III for more than a decade. "They were suspended because they drank on the way down."
Miller said he attended several functions where players were allowed to drink beer, but only where the players were older than 21.
Washington College President Charles H. Trout said yesterday that the athletic department's policies and procedures are being reviewed. He also said the suspensions will be upheld and that the case will not be reopened.
Besides Klein, the other nine players suspended were seniors Kevin Doyle (midfielder), Hank Miller (midfielder), Geoff Hall (midfielder) and Ron Council (attack); juniors Michael Johnson (defender) and Nick D'Arcangelo; sophomores Brian Johnson (attackman) and Greg Mouracade (attackman); and freshman John Clayton.
Seven of the players also received disciplinary probation through the end of the fall semester, two others have been suspended from school through the fall semester, and one has been dismissed from the college for violating a previous disciplinary probation.
"A lot of stuff has been said," said Trout, who became president last July. "I have received some phone calls about the coaches and athletic director being involved, but some of the issues are quite complicated.
"It is important for us to to look at at the whole context or culture of lacrosse at Washington College. But the institution's response thus far has been quite clear. We have no plans to reopen the case."
Trout said the the way the school transports athletes will be re-evaluated.
Dan O'Connell, Towson State University sports information director, said state-financed universities prohibit athletes from driving to games or scrimmages but that private schools have a choice.
Dan Gretz, assistant sports information director at Loyola College, said Loyola, a private institution, does not allow athletes to drive to games or scrimmages.