Volume 92, Issue 55

Wednesday, January 6, 1999



Sanctions scar soccer seasons

Smith calls it quits at Western

Winning doesn't matter to admin

Sanctions scar soccer seasons

Gazette Staff

In mid-December, Western's administration imposed a strict three-part suspension on both Mustang soccer teams.

Western's director of intercollegiate athletics, Darwin Semotiuk, said the suspensions imposed on both clubs on Dec. 16 were in response to activities which broke the intercollegiate athletic program's travel policy. Both teams were found guilty of breaking the rule regarding the consumption and transport of alcohol during varsity activities.

The women violated the code after their provincial title win Nov. 1 while the men broke the strict rule after their national championship win in Montreal on Nov. 14.

The sanctions, imposed by the intercollegiate athletic management committee, include a two-year probationary period levied on both teams and suspensions of both head coaches for the first two games of the 1999/2000 season. As well, athletes are ineligible to receive internal athletic awards for their 1998/99 performances.

According to co-captain Paula Shurge, an empty beer bottle was left on a rented minivan. The rental company brought the empty bottle to the attention of intercollegiate athletics which sparked the investigation into the women's team.

"This is not the image we want out there since it puts us in the wrong light," Shurge said. "We are made to appear reckless which is far from the truth. "

Fellow co-captain Carmyn Aleshka added that many of the girls were exhausted after the trip and were simply catching up on homework.

Shurge, who claims that nobody was drunk, also said it is unfair to place the team's actions on par with the football initiation scandal where similar sanctions were imposed.

Men's head coach Rock Basacco said after hearing the women's team was being reprimanded, he stepped forward, volunteering information regarding his own team's violation.

"At first it didn't dawn on me that we had broken a rule, but after I read the story about the women I decided to come forward," Basacco said. "You have to live with your self and your conscience and I decided this was the best thing to do."

"The penalties are severe in accordance with the severity of the actions," Semotiuk said. "It is regrettable and unfortunate but hopefully the message will get through. This behaviour will not be accepted."

According to a number of the athletes the suspensions have little impact on their highly successful seasons. The women were provincial champions while the men won their first national title in team history.

"We won a national title and for us that is the number 1 thing," said men's captain Mike Potts. "All of us have just set this aside. It really has no impact."

According to Mustang goalie, Jonathan Bendiner, the team is only guilty of celebrating being the top club in the country.

"We were class acts both on the field and in Montreal," Bendiner said. "We know we're the national champs and these suspensions do little to ruin our great season."

The men's team is currently appealing the decision.

"We did violate a rule and understand that we should be punished," Basacco said. "We are not appealing that a decision was made but rather the harshness of the suspension."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999