The University of Maryland athletic department suspended 44 members of the men's and women's lacrosse teams for part or all of the fall season after concluding its investigation yesterday into alleged underage drinking and hazing within the programs.
Eighteen men and 13 women will not be allowed to compete at all during the fall season, and 13 other players will be suspended for half the fall as a result of violating the university's Student-Athlete Code of Conduct and state laws concerning alcohol use, the university announced yesterday.
The penalties appear unlikely to affect either team's regular season.
The announcement comes a week after The Diamondback, Maryland's student newspaper, reported that an investigation of hazing and underage drinking was under way, and players and coaches were being questioned by athletic department officials.
The suspensions, which according to the university, included a letter warning the players that any future violation of the Student-Athlete Code of Conduct could result in being dismissed from the team or losing scholarship money, were decided by the athletic administration, men's lacrosse coach Dave Cottle and women's coach Cindy Timchal.
Twenty-three men also will be prohibited from joining their teammates in a trip to Florida this spring. Twenty-one women also will be barred from their team's trip to Florida, scheduled for spring 2005.
In the past, the Terrapins have scheduled regular-season games during their spring trips. The Terps' 2004 men's schedule has yet to be released.
"The players who were sanctioned cannot go on the trip, said executive senior associate athletic director Kathleen Worthington, who said those suspended were both upper and lower classmen. "It's the coaches' discretion whether or not they want to go down there and compete [in regular-season games]."
Calls to Cottle and to the Maryland women's lacrosse office went unreturned last night. A news release issued last night said that any actions taken regarding Cottle and Timchal are confidential personnel matters that, under state law, the department may not comment on.
"Our coaches are committed to do whatever is prudent and necessary to best ensure that our student-athletes remain safe and abide by the Student-Athlete Code of Conduct," athletic director Debbie Yow said in a statement. "A number of the student-athletes have apologized for the alcohol situation and recommitted themselves to adhering to the Student-Athlete Code of Conduct. We will continue to support their efforts in every way possible."