STU Volleyballer death not linked directly to hazing

[Update: 3:43 pm AST. As I suspected might happen, Saint Thomas University president Dennis Cochrane has suspended the STU men's volleyball team for the rest of the academic year for organizing a hazing party. The CBC website has the story from this afternoon's press conference.]

Six weeks ago the news broke that a young man was found dead in the stairwell of a Fredericton apartment building in the early hours of October 24th. Soon after it came out that the young victim was 21 year old Andrew Jason Bartlett, a fourth year Saint Thomas University student from small-town St. Andrews, NB, who also happened to be a first year player on the varsity volleyball team. (While STU's men's and women's hockey teams compete in the CIS, their other varsity sports compete in the ACAA, the Atlantic Colleges Athletic Association for "small" schools). STU and police said they were investigating the incident.

Soon after there was a feces storm in Fredericton when the website run by fourth-year STU journalism students, The New Brunswick Beacon, posted a story linking Bartlett's death to a hazing party. Not good. This led to accusations back and forth on campus about the validity of the posting, and then the mainstream media started following the story. STU president Dennis Cochrane responded that the school had set up a committee to investigate, including Athletic Director (and hockey coach) Mike Eagles, and were awaiting the police report.

Well the police report came down yesterday, and the NB Beacon has video of the press scrum. In today's Daily Gleaner,
Fredericton police concluded Wednesday that Bartlett's death was a result of an accidental fall in which alcohol consumption was a contributing factor.

"Final findings upon conclusion of the investigation confirm that there was nothing suspicious regarding the death and that no criminal activity was involved," Const. Rick Mooney said.

Dennis Cochrane told media Thursday hazing wasn't the cause of Andrew Jason Bartlett's death.
"We did know that there was an event on-campus, there was an event off-campus, and we were told ... that the young man was driven home by teammates and left at the door of his apartment building," Cochrane said.
"There was no activity associated with hazing that had a direct contribution to his death. We had no reason to believe there was any connection between the hazing event and the death."
In referring to the internal report, he said:

"There was an event that took place on-campus and off-campus that would meet the definition of hazing.''

"First-year players were identified and treated a little differently than the veteran members of the team. As a result, that fits the definition of what hazing would be. That's a concern to us (and,) obviously, it's a concern to everyone because one had an eventual tragic outcome."

Cochrane is expected to announce later today the consequences for the volleyball team for the hazing. My guess is that he will follow precedent in the CIS and end their season.
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1 comment:

  1. Great article, Kilfoil.

    After catching Sportsnet's CIS ticker discription of the incident I was convinced that our nation's youth were at risk.

    One has to wonder, are community newspapers and the CIS Blog the only venues that actually report context in Canadian university sport headlines.

    It is exceptionally difficult to have any respect for the "big guys" in sport media when they consistantly get the story wrong.

    I can't really say I'm surprised though.