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Cornell Lacrosse Suspension: Athletic Director Confirms Punishment Won't Carry Into the Spring

Additionally: There were no hospitalizations, injuries, or arrests during the incident.

Drew Hallowell

Cornell has been transparent about its decision to temporarily suspend the Red lacrosse program for the fall period: Between details released on the university's website regarding the incident that led to the temporary suspension and delineated discussions with the media, Cornell has been up front about the reasons underlying its choice to sideline the Red from fall competition. This is a good thing: Pellucidity is important in these kinds of situations.

Furthering that approach, Cornell Director of Athletics Andy Noel spoke with The Post-Standard about the incident, providing more specifics on the incident and shedding some light on why the university decided to cancel the Red's fall competition slate. Importantly, the incident that led to the lacrosse team's temporary suspension -- allegations of "keg races" involving individuals being tied together, some drinking to the point of vomiting -- did not result in exceptionally bad consequences:

The hazing incident that resulted in the Cornell men's lacrosse team being temporarily suspended and cancelling two Fall exhibition games did not include any criminal complaints, arrests, injuries or hospitalized players, according to police and Cornell athletic director Andy Noel.

"No player was hospitalized, injured or arrested during the hazing incident," Noel wrote in an e-mail.

With respect to the punishment imposed, Noel confirmed that the Red would have its suspension lifted prior to the start of the spring season, but also noted that the university believes that the cancellation of the lacrosse team's spring events -- which includes the Capital Lacrosse Invitational, a fall ball tournament that promotes and supports the Mario St. George Boiardi Foundation (George Boiardi was a former Cornell captain that tragically passed away while playing lacrosse in March 2004) -- was "significant":

"I consider the current sanction to be very strong because fall competition is the only time our coaching staff has to evaluate our players with the speed and intensity an opponent brings," Noel said. "Conversely, these fall scrimmage games are the only opportunity for our players to demonstrate their skills or display their improvement against outside competition. The staff and players will enter spring practice with less knowledge of individual skill and performance than in years past."

The implication here, at least from a high level, is that the punishment was designed to increase the degree of difficulty in the Red's development on the field. Arguments will remain as to whether the rationale that Noel provides reconciles to the imposed sanctions, but at least the university -- through Noel -- has provided insight into why Cornell took the approach that was ultimately undertaken.