March 24, 2011

Binghamton Defends Actions Taken Against Suspended Lacrosse Players

by J. Jude Hazard |

A request by a group of men's lacrosse parents to have former Binghamton coach Ed Stephenson reinstated were denied, according to the university's response to a letter from Steve Donigan, the father of two players. "His actions in this matter did not serve the best interest of the student-athletes," interim president C. Peter Magrath wrote. "He has not approached the athletic department for reinstatement, nor will we entertain such a request."

© Kevin P. Tucker

Binghamton University school administrators have denied a request by a group of men's lacrosse team parents to reinstate former Bearcats head coach Ed Stephenson and have defended their suspension of the three players that reportedly led to his resignation. The school's response came in a letter from C. Peter Magrath, the university's interim president, that parents posted Wednesday on Facebook.

Steve Donigan, the father of freshman attackman Kelly Donigan and junior faceoff specialist Jeff Donigan, sent the university a letter on behalf of team parents March 19 requesting the reinstatement of Stephenson, the deferment of any actions between the coach and administration until the end of the 2011 lacrosse season and clarification of how disciplinary guidelines are being applied to the three suspended players. Donigan posted on Facebook the response he said he received from Magrath.

"As you can imagine, we are disappointed that Coach Stephenson chose to resign so unexpectedly," Magrath wrote. "Though we are grateful for Coach Stephenson's many years of service to Binghamton University, his actions in this matter did not serve the best interest of the student-athletes or the Athletic Department more generally. At this time, Coach Stephenson has not approached the Athletic Department for reinstatement, nor will we entertain such a request."

The Press & Sun Bulletin of Binghamton reported last week that Stephenson resigned in protest of the three suspensions, citing an email that Stephenson sent to players, parents and others. The paper reported that the suspended players were involved in a fight with a fourth individual. Binghamton has not identified which three players were suspended.

"We have read the e-mail resignation dated 3-18-11 from Coach Stephenson and understand the root of his resignation stems from his understanding of how the discipline of three of his players is currently being handled by administration," Donigan's March 19 letter to Magrath claimed. "We as parents take no position regarding these players' guilt or innocence -- our only interest is an understanding of the procedures that are in place to serve and protect our kids."

In his response, Magrath said the students are being treated in accordance with the policies and procedures of the university-wide Code of Conduct. Although criminal charges have been "resolved," according to Magrath's letter, the university judicial process is still pending.

"I have had several conversations with our Athletic Director, Jim Norris, regarding this matter and am confident that the three student-athletes that were suspended from the lacrosse team were treated fairly," Magrath wrote. "This process is consistent with the policies of our Athletic Department."

Binghamton (4-4) had entered the week on a four-game winning streak before losing 10-3 to Siena on Tuesday. Donigan said he has invited both Norris and Magrath to a parent meeting prior to the team's game against Vermont on April 2.

School administrators did not respond to requests for comment. Donigan's Facebook page, Binghamton University Justice for Student Athletes, had 131 "likes" by Thursday. Check as more details on this story become available.

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