UW-Stout hockey players kicked off team after death
MENOMONIE -- UW-Stout student athletes are ambassadors to the university and must be held to a higher standard than their fellow students, Chancellor Charles Sorensen said Wednesday.
University officials on Wednesday announced that two hockey team players have been kicked off the team and eight others are ineligible to compete for the upcoming season because of their connection to the Sept. 18 injury and subsequent death of 21-year-old UW-Stout student Bradley L. Simon.
"We hold athletes to a higher responsibility," Sorensen said during Wednesday's news conference. "For the most part they understand that."
Two former UW-Stout students Jared C. Britton, 23, 3207 Timber Terrace, Menomonie, and Jedediah R. McGlasson, 21, 2905 Edgewood Drive, Menomonie face felony charges of being party to the crime of murder and battery after shoving Simon, who was riding a bicycle. Simon struck his head on a concrete barrier and died five days later.
Britton and McGlasson have been permanently removed from the team. Eight other players -- who the university refused to name -- are ineligible for the upcoming hockey season after authorities determined they had waited to confront Simon outside the Log Jam tavern. They are eligible for reinstatement after the season if approved by the athletic department and the dean of students.
All of the players disciplined were present at the Log Jam during the early morning in which Simon was fatally injured.
According to the criminal complaints filed against Britton and McGlasson, Simon became involved in a disagreement with a hockey player and had a drink slapped out of his hand. The disagreement was about a sweatshirt that Britton was wearing.
Simon was worried about being attacked when he left the bar and left the rear of the building to sneak away, but hockey players were waiting for him.
UW-Stout spokesman Doug Mell said the incident at the Log Jam is still under investigation by Menomonie police, and court cases are still pending.
"We can't get into specifics about what actions happened in the Log Jam that night," Mell said.
Action against hockey players was the result of team members violating the student athlete code of conduct, university officials said. The code contains specific guidelines for behavior, both on and off the field, including actions while engaging in what university officials termed high-risk alcohol use.
Disciplinary action was taken against individual players and not the overall hockey team, Sorensen said, because much of the team wasn't at the Log Jam.
Other athletic teams will not be directly impacted by the situation with the hockey team, UW-Stout Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Life Services Phil Lyons said.
"Each coach individually has talked to every member of their teams about the code of conduct and how they conduct themselves," Lyons said. "We try to hammer home to the students they are ambassadors of the institution."
Lyons said the hockey team faces significant challenges with the loss of 10 of its 31 players. The team, coached by Terry Watkins, has tryouts this week.
"Certainly this will hurt the program, but it will endure," Lyons said.
Watkins was unavailable for comment because he was out of town attending a funeral. The coach was involved in the decision-making process regarding disciplinary action regarding hockey players, Sorensen said.
Sorensen conceded that the actions of Britton and McGlasson sully the reputation of the hockey team and the university.
"Certainly it does," Sorensen said. "This team will bounce back."
Sorensen and Lyons said the hockey team doesn't have a history of bad behavior. But the incident leading to Simon's death isn't the first time a UW-Stout program has been in trouble. The football team was rocked by a drug scandal in 2006 that resulted in the arrests of several players and the resignations of the coach and athletic director.
Despite that, Sorensen said university officials have no plans to change the student-athlete code of ethics, because the existing code spells out proper conduct.
"We're going to learn from this and grow from this," Sorensen said.
The hockey team issue is the latest alcohol-related incident to plague UW-Stout. At the beginning of this school year university officials announced regulations intended to curb high-risk drinking in light of multiple student deaths the last two years.
Sorensen said the university, the local tavern league and the greater Menomonie community will have to work together to help prevent further alcohol problems among students.
"It's all about safe behavior in the final analysis," Sorensen said.
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