BETHLEHEM – The entire varsity softball team was suspended for two games earlier this month, essentially eliminating any possibility of post season play.
The 13-member team was having around a .500 season, and did have an outside chance of making the sectionals this year prior to the forced forfeits against Guilderland and South Colonie.
According to a statement by JoEllen Gardner, a spokeswoman for the Bethlehem Central School District, officials learned of a potential violation on Monday, May 8.
An immediate investigation of the allegations commenced, resulting in the two-game suspension of the entire team.
“As athletes in the Bethlehem Central School District, the team is required to abide by the Athletic Handbook and Code of Conduct,” said Gardner in a statement. “According to the handbook, any violation of the Code of Conduct during the season of participation in any sport results in immediate consequences.”
The incident in question occurred at a party sometime in March, according to people familiar with the situation.
Bethlehem was forced to forfeit games against Guilderland on May 8 and South Colonie on May 10.
The first was slated to be the Bethlehem official Senior Day game, during which the team and fans tip their hat to the seniors playing their last season. The latter was supposed to be Colonie’s Senior Day game.
Instead, on Friday, May 12, Guilderland travelled to Colonie and played as the home team to help give Colonie seniors a sendoff. Colonie won the game 9-3, despite playing as the visiting team on their home field.
The team played it last game of the season against Columbia on May 12 and lost 2-1. With the forfeited two games, they ended the season with a 6-8 record.
The two-game suspension is the minimum penalty for any Bethlehem student athlete found to have violated the Code of Conduct and/or the student Athletic Handbook.
“Additionally, any returning student athletes involved in this matter will be placed on a one-year probationary period in 2017-18 where any other discretion will result in immediate removal from a sports team,” Gardner said in the statement. “The district believes that participation in sports provides a wealth of opportunities and experiences that enhance student’s education, but that can only be accomplished by maintaining a program where each student’s commitment and responsibility to the team is upheld.”
The handbook and the Code of Conduct is given to student athletes at the start of each season. A form agreeing to abide by its rules and regulations is signed by the student and a parent before a student can participate on any school sponsored athletic team.
Athletic Director Leonard Kies and Coach Nicole Wickham were unavailable for comment.