BURLINGTON, Vt. — The University of Vermont has suspended four hockey players for five games after an off-campus party at which hazing occurred.
Captains Brendan Bradley and Mario Puskarich and assistant captains Chris Muscoby and Anthony Petruzzelli were suspended Thursday, a day before the season opener against Clarkson.
“This is something that I take very seriously,” athletic director Jeff Schulman said. “Hazing is dangerous, it’s against university policy and it won’t be tolerated in this athletic department. We’re fortunate that this incident did not result in any injuries, but these activities always have the potential to endanger the safety and well-being of our students.”
A hazing scandal at the school in 1999 led to the cancellation of about half its hockey season.
“As disappointing as this situation is, I want this to be a valuable learning experience for this team,” coach Kevin Sneddon said. “I fully support the sanctions and the university’s response and I also support the players on the men’s hockey team. Our program has a strong educational component. I will help our players learn from their mistakes and move forward.”
The university said after an allegation first surfaced Sept. 24 about the initiation activity, a Campus Security Authority turned the information over to Police Services for investigation, following university policy and state law.
The school said Police Services consulted with the Chittenden County State’s Attorney’s Office, which determined that none of the behavior warranted criminal prosecution. On Thursday, Police Services also informed university officials that they do not intend to issue civil citations.
According to Police Services, first-year team members were asked to temporarily turn over their cellphones on the morning of Sept. 24 for the initiation activity. Later in the afternoon, the team members arrived at an off-campus residence occupied by some of the upper-class players. The initiation activity consisted of first-year team members drinking beer and liquor, and they were expected to be dressed in their boxer shorts while they consumed the alcoholic beverages.
The school placed the team on probation for a year with the understanding that any further team misconduct will result in additional discipline up to and including game cancellations. The school said the team will be required to participate in additional educational programming on hazing, and will be required to engage in 15 hours of community service.
“My primary concern is for the safety and well-being of our students,” President Tom Sullivan said. “At UVM we hold our student athletes to a high standard. The university has explicit rules and procedures that have been and will continue to be followed without exception. I am committed to ensuring that appropriate accountability measures are in place to uphold the integrity of our programs and of the university. This is our responsibility as an educational institution.”