UTICA â€” Seven Notre Dame Junior/Senior High School boys soccer players and their coach have been suspended for the remainder of the season after a prank that the Catholic Diocese said showed â€œpoor judgment.â€
School and Syracuse Roman Catholic Diocese officials denied there was hazing involved, although the suspended coach said hazing might have been involved.
The incident took place Oct. 7 outside a pancake breakfast at the school to benefit the team.
â€œIt was an incident at the school,â€ said Danielle Cummings, assistant chancellor and director of communications for the Syracuse Diocese. â€œIt was not hazing.
After interviewing those involved, it was clear it was meant to be a prank.
â€œClearly, it was a demonstration of poor judgment. The situation and those involved have been dealt with by the school administration.â€
Notre Dame Principal Sister Anna Mae Collins declined further comment.
Notre Dame boys varsity soccer coach Ryan Monaco said he was suspended because he did not immediately respond to the incident.
â€œI was under the impression it was kids being kids,â€ Monaco said Monday. â€œThe school felt it was a different situation, a hazing type thing. I didnâ€™t feel it was.â€
The seven suspended boys have not been named, and the Jugglersâ€™ season continued Tuesday with the 13 remaining varsity players hosting a Tri Valley League game against Camden at Brother Vic Stadium.
Notre Dame won the game 2-0. With a win Saturday at Mohawk, the short-handed Jugglers would qualify for the Section III Tournament that begins next week.
Monaco said he was not led to believe the incident was serious. The boys returned to the school after the incident and all involved were smiling, he said.
Monaco, 25, and a 2000 graduate of the school, said he did not take any action because he didnâ€™t think it was necessary.
The prank is the second in less than a year at Notre Dame. In January, a
ninth-grade student put prescription sleeping pills into the lunch of a classmate.
The student who ingested the pills was not injured, although several other students were aware of what took place.
At the time, Collins said the schoolâ€™s students would be instructed on the dangers of prescription drug abuse.
As to how the school would address the latest incident with the student body, Collins said, â€œweâ€™re still working on it.â€
Monaco said five players involved were initially suspended on Friday for two games. Monaco said two more players were found to be involved on Monday, and the seven athletes plus Monaco were suspended for the rest of the year.
Monaco said he was notified of this during a meeting at Notre Dame on Monday.
â€œItâ€™s a serious thing,â€ Monaco said. â€œMy understanding was no one was hurt by it. Itâ€™s a hard place for me, but as a coach I guess I have to take responsibility even when kids arenâ€™t being honest with you.â€
Notre Dame Assistant Principal Roy Kane said assistant coach George Saber will take over for the rest of the season. The Jugglers (4-8-2 TVL, 4-9-2 overall) have two regular season games remaining, including their final league game Thursday at home against Clinton.