EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 13, 2010

Merrimack dorm drinking incident ruled hazing

By J.J. Huggins

NORTH ANDOVER — Merrimack College officials have determined that a recent alcohol-related incident involving the baseball team violated the school's hazing policy.

"Hazing is unacceptable and not tolerated in any way at Merrimack College, and is cause for disciplinary action according to Merrimack's code of conduct," the school said in a statement yesterday.

Merrimack College officials interviewed 28 baseball players about the incident, which took place last Friday in a dormitory, but school spokeswoman Kathleen Franzese declined to provide more details. No one was physically harmed, she stressed.

The incident happened in a dorm room of team members and forced school administrators to cancel the team's seven-game Florida road trip next month. Team members also have to do 20 hours of community service.

Franzese declined to elaborate on any other disciplinary action taken against the students.

"Sanctions are private," she said.

An anti-hazing policy is part of the college's student-athlete code of conduct, which every player is required to sign at the beginning of the school year. Hazing also is addressed in the student handbook, the statement said.

"Merrimack will continue to address the issue of hazing and alcohol usage, and to educate our community about the impact that the actions of a few can have on the entire Merrimack community," the statement said.

In accordance with state law, the college "notified the proper authorities and will work closely with them to provide any information they may seek," the statement said.

Franzese declined to say who "the proper authorities" are.

North Andover police Detective Lt. Paul Gallagher said the college notified North Andover police Chief Richard Stanley that it was investigating the incident.

"The North Andover Police Department is not involved in the investigation," Gallagher said.

Staff Writer Jim Patten contributed to this report.