University of Vermont co-captains Brendan Bradley and Mario Puskarich, as well as alternate captains Chris Muscoby and Anthony Petruzzelli, have been suspended for the first five games of the upcoming NCAA season and the entire team has been placed on yearlong probation after an off-campus hazing incident.
In a statement Thursday, the University of Vermont’s director of athletics, Jeff Schulman, announced the suspensions for the four players as well as additional sanctions for the team following what was referred to as a “prohibited initiation activity focused on first-year team members.”
"This is something that I take very seriously," Schulman said in a statement. "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.”
The allegations of the incident first arose on Sept. 24, which led a member of the university’s security to provide campus police with information about the hazing. The complaint was then taken to the State’s Attorney’s Office, at which point it was determined no criminal charges would be pressed.
According to the release from University of Vermont, first-year players were asked to turn over their cell phones on the morning of Sept. 24, and later taken to a house off-campus where “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.” No further details of the incident have been released by the school.
“I am committed to ensuring that appropriate accountability measures are in place to uphold the integrity of our programs and of the University,” president Tom Sullivan said. “This is our responsibility as an educational institution."
Beyond the suspensions of the four players from the team’s leadership group, the sanctions against the club also require the team go through education about hazing, a “restorative justice session,” and 15 hours of community service beyond the service the team will already be performing.
Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon said he was disappointed in the situation, but hopes it can be a “valuable learning experience” for the entire team.
"I fully support the sanctions and the university's response and I also support the players on the men's hockey team," said coach Kevin Sneddon. “Our program has a strong educational component. I will help our players learn from their mistakes and move forward.”
The four suspended players, none of whom have been drafted by NHL teams, will not be eligible to return until their Oct. 30 game against Northeastern, and will be forced to miss the season-opening games against Clarkson this weekend, two games against Nebraska Omaha and one game against Michigan.
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