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Friday, April 27, 2012

Franklin & Marshall Women's Lacrosse Coaches' Press Release re: Hazing Incident

Lauren Paul Fired; Caitlin Powderly and Lidia Sanza Placed on Indefinite Leave in F & M Lacrosse Scandal

John A. Gallagher, Esquire has been retained to represent these coaches.  Here is a Press Release on behalf of the coaches:

Neither F &M woman’s lacrosse Head Coach Lauren Paul, nor her Assistant Coaches, Caitlin  Powderly and Lidia Sanza, had knowledge of or involvement in the March 11, 2011 incident giving rise to their present circumstances, and do not condone hazing in any form.  If they had known that hazing occurred in March 2011, if it occurred, they would have taken corrective action. 

The facts of this matter are important for the public to understand.

In early February 2012, Coach Paul made cuts from her team in the ordinary course.  Soon after, the parents of one of the cut players registered a complaint about a student-led event in March 2011, eleven months prior.  This incident, about which no details have been released to Ms. Paul or her assistants, has since been categorized as “hazing.”  It is unknown whether the parents in question made any sort of threats to the college.

After hearing of the March 2011 event in mid-February 2012, the administration took virtually no steps to investigate same until April 6th, 2012.  It is unknown what action the complaining parents, or their lawyer, took during this period of inactivity.

F&M thereafter began an “investigation” wherein the student-athletes were instructed not to speak with their parents, and told they did not need to seek representation of any kind.  This investigation was procedurally flawed in many significant respects. 

Although F & M fired Ms. Paul, placed her assistants on leave of absence (a particularly curious decision where Ms. Sanza is concerned, since she wasn’t even coaching F & M in March 2011) and suspended 11 student athletes from the team on April 17, the investigation was on that date still ongoing.

It appears that F & M elected to release news of these sanctions to the public on April 18, 2012.  It is unknown if this release was made solely at the election of F & M, or to satisfy the demands of third-parties. The initial press releases were accompanied by statements from F & M that sought to blame Ms. Paul, and her assistants, for the March 2011 events.

The college acknowledged in writing that, as of Friday, April 20, 2012, the investigation was still ongoing. Why F & M chose to fire Ms. Paul, and to zealously publish the news of such firing, while its investigation was still ongoing, is a matter that only F & M and its lawyers can answer.

Earlier this week, and having completed its investigation, F & M decided to invite the 11 suspended players back on to the team.  None of the suspended players were suspended or expelled from the college. Interestingly, the suspended players have rejected the college’s invitation to rejoin the team. 

Ms. Paul understands that F & M takes its Student Code of Conduct very seriously, and that it enforces same vigorously when students have engaged in violations that threaten the mental or physical safety of its students.  The decision to reinstate the suspended players, coupled with the absence of any meaningful student discipline being pursued or carried out, particularly when viewed through the prism of F & M’s stated principles where student well-being is concerned, clearly suggest that whatever occurred in March 2011 did not constitute “hazing.”

Ms. Paul's goal moving forward is to have a fulfilling and rewarding career. Ms. Powderly and Ms. Sanza share that ideal. While the coaches believe the actions taken against them were rash and wholly unwarranted, they understand that F & M, having published the reports concerning same, is unlikely to change its mind at this time.  Consequently, they are presently considering their vocational and legal options. 

Join the Petition Seeking Reinstatement of Coach Lauren Paul

There is a strong grass roots campaign advocating the rescission of the termination of Ms. Paul, and her reinstatement as F & M Head Coach.  Please Click Here to sign a Petition supporting this important cause in the name of what is just and right.

Footnote: The remaining members of the F & M lacrosse team elected on Friday April 27 not to play in the Centennial Conference tournament, thereby foregoing a near surefire NCAAA tournament bid for the 10th ranked Diplomats. These student athletes are a credit to themselves, their parents and families, and to Coach Paul and her staff.

5 comments:

David McManus, Randolph, NJ said...

since these acts of "hazing" were egregious enough to warrant terminations/suspensions/tarnishing of current and future careers etc., has the president of this esteemed university considered resignation, since these unconscionable actions occurred on his watch?????????

Anonymous said...

Nope. Nor has the athletics director.

Anonymous said...

maybe when all of the FACTS become public there will be a different view regarding this. Just google "hazing deaths" and then say hazing is not a serious issue on college campuses.

Anonymous said...

maybe once all of the FACTS have been made public there will be a different view,. Just google "hazing deaths" if you don't think hazing on college campuses is a serious problem.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the AD should step down. This is not the first time F&M has caused a legal issue in personnel decisions, and she has been present for all of them.