Published: April 7, 2016
Assisted reporting by: Steve DePrimo
Director of Athletics David Martin told the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams last week that they will have a season next year and their investigation into allegations they violated University policy will conclude by April 15, swimmers said.
While awaiting their teams’ fate, members of the suspended swim teams reached out to potential future team members at Saturday’s Preview Day for accepted students.
The team was not allowed to have a booth in the Byron Recreation Complex on Preview Day because the investigation into allegations team members violated The University’s hazing, sexual harassment and sexual misconduct and alcohol policies is still ongoing, University spokesman Stan Zygmunt wrote in an email to The Aquinas Wednesday.
While representatives from University academic departments and athletic teams welcomed potential members of the 2020 Scranton class at booths in the Bryon Recreation Complex, Director of Athletics Marin said swim team members were not allowed to attend.
Instead, Martin staffed the swim teams’ booth in the Byron, although he told The Aquinas he could not speak about the swim team. He said he was at Preview Day to represent athletics.
So the swim team members set up shop elsewhere.
Two junior swim team members, Jessica Schmidt and Emma Sommers, requested and were granted permission for the team to assemble on Preview Day near the Dionne Campus Green by Anitra McShea, Ph.D., vice provost for student formation and campus life, Schmidt and Sommers said.
The two swimmers sent an email to McShea on March 30 with 115 names of students, parents, faculty and alumni who said they support the swim team. She approved their request in a meeting Friday.
Saturday’s makeshift booth next to the amphitheater at the intersection of the Royal Way and the Commons included music, posters and photos from past team meets and training trips, Schmidt and Sommers said.
“The sole purpose of what we did and our intentions were just to do what we would’ve done in the Byron, outside,” Schmidt said. “Basically talk to students that wanted to come here and swim or dive and to inform them how our team is, the dynamics of the team and answer any questions.”
The two swimmers said about half of the 57-member swim team staffed the booth at some point. Men’s and women’s team members from all grades represented the team, including those who are not under further investigation, those who have received punishment, and those who are still under investigation and await their punishment.
The Aquinas reported on March 10 The University charged four swimmers with hazing or alcohol policy violations and 17 more are under Title IX investigation for sexual harassment and sexual misconduct.
Schmidt and Sommers have not been punished and are not under further investigation by The University.
The swim team members spoke with 15-20 potential swimmers, at least four of who submitted their deposits to The University after speaking with the team, Schmidt and Sommers said.
“We had a really good turnout,” Sommers said. “There was a ton of recruits and their parents and, yeah, they asked about the investigation and stuff, but they also want to know about our program. They were all really positive.”
Three swimmers’ parents, including Sommer’s mother, supported the team and spoke with parents of prospective swimmers Saturday.
An interim suspension for both teams, instituted by Athletic Director David Martin, remains in effect pending the outcome of the investigation, according to The University’s statement to The Aquinas.
Schmidt felt Martin’s representation of the teams in the Byron would not be sufficient for prospective swimmers.
“To make people want to come to the school and want to swim for us and dive, we felt that it would be more appropriate for us to talk to them rather than someone who doesn’t swim or dive,” she said.
Although Martin told swimmers the 2020 class will be able to swim and the investigation will be concluded by April 15, the swimmers are still uneasy, as the investigation’s conclusion date has been pushed back before.
“It’s frustrating because as of right now no one who’s currently on the swim team knows if they’re swimming or if they’re not,” Schmidt said.
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