Blogs and Commentary

posted 04.17.2012 at 4.40 p.m. by Clare Lochary

Franklin & Marshall Coach Fired, Several Players Suspended After Hazing Investigation

updated at 9:32 p.m.

Franklin & Marshall women's lacrosse coach Lauren Paul, a Diplomats alum who won the 2009 Division III NCAA Championship as a first-year coach and was named the 2009 IWLCA Coach of the Year, has been removed from her position as the result of an investigation into a hazing incident that occurred during the 2010-2011 school year.

Additionally, several players on the team have been suspended for the rest of the season as a result of the same investigation. F&M field hockey coach and senior women's adminstrator Melissa Mariano will serve as interim women's lacrosse coach.

According to a statement from Kent Trachte, Dean of the College, the university received an anonymous tip about the hazing incident in February and launched a formal investigation on April 10. The school said the activities in question were related to an unsanctioned student-organized event that took place last year. Those directly involved in planning and executing the event were suspended.

Initial reports indicated that the Diplomats' season would be cancelled, but school officials said they support the completion of the season, and put the decision in the hands of the 16 players remaining on the team, 15 of whom are underclassmen. The players chose to continue playing, beginning with a game versus Centennial conference rival Gettysburg at 7 p.m. Wednesday. F&M is currently 12-2 and ranked No. 7 in the IWLCA Division III coaches' poll.

Twenty-seven players are listed in F&M's cumulative season statistics. The team's three leading scorers to date are among those no longer listed on the roster.

Trachte said in the statement to members of the Franklin & Marshall College Community that a permanent head coach will be selected after the conclusion of the season. 

Assistant coaches Caitlin Powderly and Lidia Sanza (an F&M alum who played for Paul in 2009 and 2010, winning the C. Markland Kelly Award and F&M Female Athlete of the Year in 2010) are still employed by the university, although their names and Paul's have been removed from the team webpage.

"We believe that all coaches are responsible for fostering a team culture that is consistent with the educational goals of the institution, and for being effective educators about matters such as hazing," Trachte said. "The students directly involved in planning and executing the hazing event have been suspended from the team for the remainder of the season as part of the sanctions outlined in F&M's Student-Athlete Code of Conduct. These students may be subject to further sanctions after the College processes this matter through our system for handling violations of the Student Code of Conduct.

"We understand there will be a range of reactions to these decisions," he said. "We feel strongly that students must face consequences for violating College policies and engaging in activities that have no place on any college campus. At F&M, there is no greater priority than the well-being and safety of students."