By Beth Brelje
also by Mike Kuhns
Pocono Record Writers
October 30, 2009
East Stroudsburg University campus police officers reportedly participated in a possible act of hazing that cost the field hockey team a chance to participate in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference championships.
On the evening of Oct. 4, members of the campus police chased members of the team throughout the campus and into the surrounding neighborhoods, according to information received by the Monroe County District Attorney’s office. The information came in the form of a request for an investigation of a potential violation of Pennsylvania’s anti-hazing law from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.
No decision has been made as to whether an investigation will be initiated by the Monroe County District Attorney’s office.
The chase is reportedly part of a team tradition that may go back more than two decades.
According to the request from PASSHE, team leadership makes arrangements with the police department to “catch” the field hockey members who are painting rocks near the field hockey field and then pursue them throughout campus.
“My definition of hazing, it’s not hazing,” said Coach Sandy Miller, who is in her 26th season with ESU. She declined further comment.
ESU’s office of university relations mentioned team members but did not specify campus police involvement in a statement released Thursday:
“The East Stroudsburg University women’s field hockey team will not participate in this weekend’s Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference championships on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 30 and 31) at Shippensburg due to allegations, currently under investigation by the university, involving team member participation in possible hazing activities.
“The allegations regarding student-athlete participation in hazing are being vigorously investigated by the university. Investigations are also being conducted as to possible staff involvement and the matter has been referred to law enforcement authorities. Disciplinary action, if warranted, will be taken by the university.”
The team was told Thursday at 11:30 a.m. by Doreen Tobin, vice president of student affairs, that ESU was forfeiting the PSAC Tournament.
“The team asked why and emotions were flying everywhere. Our team was in tears,” said Jess Frantz, a junior on the team. “Our team questioned her because we wanted to know what was hazing. We weren’t hazing or hazed.” Frantz was not there that night but explained it was, “paint night.”
On the eve of Parents’ Day at ESU, the team goes to the field at night and paints messages to parents and family on rocks around the field.
“I know everyone had a great time,” Frantz said. “We beat a team 5-0 the next day. If anything it brought the team together. A lot of underclassmen said they loved it.”
Student Coach Meganann Cappuccino said the news was a complete shock. “None of us saw this coming.”
“We had several girls not show up, and that was fine,” Cappuccino said. “It is a form of team bonding, but more so a way to show parents and friends who come support us, we love you.”
Cappuccino said the coaching staff had been “fighting all afternoon” with Tobin, Athletic Director Tom Gioglio and President Robert Dillman.
“How this is a form of hazing? They can’t give us a clear definition. They apparently think it is,” Cappuccino said. “As of now the season is over. They took PSACs away from us and we are no longer able to compete.”
ESU was 14-6 this year, the most wins since they were 14-8 in 2002.
Campus police did not respond to requests for comment.