By Christine McCall/Daily News staff
NEWPORT – If Salve Regina University students were not exactly surprised by an alleged hazing incident involving members of the men’s soccer team, they still were divided on the consequences facing the team, including a five-game suspension.
“Since it’s the beginning of the season, I think (it’s) severe,” Michelle Delisio, a sophomore at Salve, said Tuesday. “They haven’t even really started. It can set them back a lot.”
On the other hand, Jill Donnelly, a junior on the women’s ice hockey team, said that the university has a zero-tolerance policy for hazing and the policy is strictly followed. “Our coach doesn’t allow it,” she said. “If he hears or sees anything about it, I think he would suspend the season.”
Before the string of forfeits started on Sept. 27, the men’s soccer team – which reached the Commonwealth Coast Conference title game last season – had a 5-3-1 record and was 3-0-1 in the conference.
In addition to the five-game suspension imposed by the athletic department, a number of soccer players have been put through the university’s adjudication process, officials said. Sanctions range from mandatory attendance at special classes or programs to probation, suspension or expulsion.
A soccer team initiation ceremony that ended Sept. 23 in a confrontation on Memorial Boulevard between several Salve students and local residents is among the incidents being investigated. The university’s athletic department policy includes prohibitions against drinking, using drugs and hazing.
Reports of hazing by university sports teams, fraternities and sororities are not uncommon, and students did not seem surprised by it. “I think it’s kind of understood that it happens everywhere,” Delisio said.
A senior student-athlete from New Jersey, who asked not be identified for fear of incriminating himself and his teammates, said it is not unusual for hazing to occur, especially when there is drinking going on. He said he has voluntarily taken part in hazing. “It happens more often then you hear about,” he said. “Just not everyone gets caught.”