California State University at Chico, no stranger to alcohol-related trouble, is again in the news for underage student drinking.
After learning that the women’s softball team provided drinks to a high school recruit who was admitted to a hospital for alcohol overdose, the university has cancelled the remainder of the team’s schedule.
According to a university release, 12 members of the softball team attended an off-campus party on March 25 where alcohol was served to the unnamed 17-year-old high school senior, who was on a recruiting trip with her father. After the recruit “became lethargic and then unresponsive after drinking,” as the university statement says, a player called for help. The girl was taken by ambulance to a nearby medical center, where she was released after several hours.
“This is a sad day for Chico State athletics,” Anita Barker, the university’s director of athletics, said in a statement. “We pride ourselves on being role models, on having a program that the campus and community are proud of. However, the magnitude and gravity of this situation warrants swift and decisive action that sends a message this behavior is unacceptable.”
Teri Rupe, the women’s softball coach, said she supported the university’s decision. “I am shocked, saddened and angry about what happened over the weekend regarding my team..... Unfortunately, the poor judgment of some has affected the entire program,” she said in a statement.
According to the university, Rupe has removed from the team the 12 players who attended the party. Barker said that while the incident was not an NCAA rules violation, she has been in contact with association officials to discuss the self-imposed penalties and the best course of action for the players who remain on the team.
Several of the Chico State players were under drinking age, prompting the university to send their cases to the office of student judicial affairs to determine appropriate sanctions. Suspension from the college is possible.
The softball team was about halfway through its season.
Alcohol prevention programs were exapnded at Chico State campus after an 18-year-old fraternity member died of alcohol poisoning in 2000.