March 20, 2011

Binghamton Coach Ed Stephenson Resigns in Protest of Disciplinary Actions Against Players

by Matt DaSilva |

Ed Stephenson, the Binghamton men's lacrosse coach since the team's inception, says the university's suspension of three players involved in an alleged fight was unfair, according to an email obtained by the Press & Sun-Bulletin.

© Kevin P. Tucker

Binghamton University men's lacrosse coach Ed Stephenson has resigned in protest of disciplinary action taken against three of his players, according to a report by the Press & Sun-Bulletin.

"We appreciate his contributions to our men's lacrosse program and we wish him well in his future endeavors," a university statement said Saturday. "Kevin McKeown will step in as interim head coach, and we are confident that he will provide strong leadership to our team."

McKeown, a former Binghamton All-American, was in his third season as an assistant coach under Stephenson, a veteran coach who has been with the program since its inception. Stephenson was the 2004 America East Coach of the Year.

In an email addressed to players, coaches and others connected with the team and obtained by the Press & Sun-Bulletin, Stephenson wrote that three unidentified players were suspended after they were allegedly in a fight with a fourth unidentified individual, a former wrestler. One of the suspended players, Stephenson wrote, was involved only in breaking up the fight.

"The students were formally suspended from the athletic program as soon as athletic department staff and coaches were made aware of this incident," BU spokeswoman Gail Glover told the Press & Sun-Bulletin. "Behavioral issues are dealt with swiftly and appropriately."

According to the report, Stephenson wrote that the suspended players "are getting biased treatment from our administration. They should be punished based on the facts, and this was not a gang attack."

Two of the players were starters, he wrote.

The report also indicated that Stephenson believes the disciplinary actions were taken by the university to prevent the media from learning about the incident, because it could serve as a reminder of the Miladin Kovacevic case. Kovacevic, a former Binghamton basketball player, is serving a two-year jail sentence in his native Bosnia for the severe beating of another university student.

"They have become so scared of the media that they will not act fairly with regard to the student athletes' judicial cases," Stephenson wrote in the email.

A Facebook page titled "Binghamton University Justice for Student Athletes" has been established by Steve Donigan, the father of freshman attackman Kelly Donigan and junior faceoff specialist Jeff Donigan. Under its basic information tab, the page calls for "due process for student-athletes" and in its description says "interim athletic director James Norris has cowardly refused to allow due process for student-athletes for fear of the press...his past poor decisions and lack of judgment becoming a public discussion once again."

Binghamton (4-3) has won four straight games. The Bearcats play Tuesday at Siena.

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