Campus: CSU Chico -- March 29, 2006

University Cancels Remainder of Softball Season

California State University, Chico is canceling the remainder of its 2006 softball season following an incident in which a high school recruit was admitted to the hospital for alcohol overdose.

The 17-year-old high school senior had attended a party Friday, March 24, hosted by a group of Chico State softball players. A University investigation has concluded that alcohol was served to the recruit and readily available at the party, which was attended by 12 of the 18 players on Chico State’s softball team. Several of the players in attendance were under 21 years of age.

“This is a sad day for Chico State Athletics,” said Athletic Director Anita Barker. “We pride ourselves on being role models, on having a program that the campus and community are proud of. However, the magnitude and gravity of this situation warrants swift and decisive action that sends a message this behavior is unacceptable.”

“We have raised expectations for student behavior at Chico State, and we must hold all of our students accountable to those expectations,” said President Paul Zingg. “We are committed to standards of conduct for all of our students that support the values of the University, including being a safe and responsible community. Changing the drinking culture that plagues our campus, as it does many others, is a critical step towards this goal."

Softball coach Teri Rupe said she was in full agreement with the decision to cancel the remainder of the season. “I am shocked, saddened and angry about what happened over the weekend regarding my team. This is a horrible incident and does not reflect well on the campus community, the athletic department, and primarily the softball program. Unfortunately, the poor judgment of some has affected the entire program. Ultimately, I am responsible for my program, and I am committed to doing everything in my power to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.”

The cancellation of the season is due to the severity of the incident and is not the outcome of individual disciplinary action. Barker said she had been in contact with NCAA officials, and while the incident was not an NCAA rules violation, they were in support of the University’s action.

CSU, Chico’s Office of Student Judicial Affairs is in the process of determining appropriate disciplinary sanctions to student athletes involved, which range from disciplinary probation to suspension from school. The players have also been removed from the team by Coach Rupe.

“This decision has not been entered into lightly, realizing that there are student athletes with no involvement who will be adversely affected,” said Barker. “The University will make every effort to assist the softball players that were not involved with the incident.” Barker has been in contact with the NCAA to determine the best course of action to aid these students in regaining their season of competition. They can continue to practice this spring under guidelines established by the NCAA, Barker said.

The high school recruit came to Chico with her father for an official recruiting visit that included meeting the coach and team and touring campus. She attended a party hosted by some members of the softball team and later became lethargic and then unresponsive after drinking. Players placed a 911 call, and she was transported by paramedics at 1 am on Saturday, March 25, to Enloe Medical Center. She was released at 6 am to her father and is reportedly doing fine.

As a result of the incident, Barker said she will lead a complete review of the athletic department’s recruitment practices and procedures. This will include, but is not limited to, an educational process for coaches and athletes to reiterate the responsibilities and expectations of those involved in the recruitment process. She also plans to work with student athletes to explore ways to send a clear message to their teams that this type of behavior is not acceptable.

The cancellation is effective immediately, and includes this weekend’s tournament hosted by Cal State Stanislaus. The softball team was approximately halfway through the season; after the tournament, the Wildcats had 20 games (10 double-headers) remaining on their schedule. Barker said she has been in touch with the California Collegiate Athletic Association, of which Chico is a member, to inform the conference and other members of the cancellation.

Contact: Joe Wills, 530-898-4143

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