On Friday Sept. 14, over a week after Vice President for Student and Campus Life Robert Bonfiglio indefinitely suspended the women’s volleyball team, the college also cancelled the rest of the team’s 2012 season. Bonfiglio, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Mike Mooney and Dean of Students Leonard Sancilio weighed many different courses of disciplinary action when deciding the volleyball team’s fate. One option was to allow only the first-year student athletes to compete in the remaining 2012 season. Another option was to only participate in SUNYAC play and cancel the nonconference games. A third option was to eliminate the women’s volleyball program altogether.
“We feel that we took a middle course, neither the extreme – as they say death penalty –and end volleyball at the college nor the fairly light cancel of a couple of games,” Bonfiglio said. The administrators decided to punish the entire team since, according to Mooney, “the basic premise was that it was a team event, and because it’s a team event we aren’t looking at individual people.”
The week prior, beginning Monday Sept. 10, Mooney interviewed each individual involved if she wanted to speak out. Based on the information that the volleyball team members and associated defendants provided, it was clear to the administration that the student-athletes violated the codes of conduct of the college and the department of athletics and recreation as well as the penal law of the state of New York.
Due to the recent incident, the college recognizes the need to not only tackle important issues, such as hazing and underage drinking, but to also reduce their occurrence.
“It’s an unfortunate incident. Everybody feels bad for the individuals involved, but if the college has policies and core values, like the core value of respect, we need to uphold those values, and the only way to uphold them is by making your actions match your words,” Bonfiglio said.
“As an educational institution most of our efforts – all of our efforts – go into educating students about expectations and consequences, and we have not used this way of communicating and educating in the past. We think it’s time. A student came very, very close to losing [her] life.”
On behalf of the conference, SUNYAC commissioner Azure Davey said in an email, “The SUNYAC recognizes the efforts of Geneseo administrators to uphold the principle of student-athlete wellbeing and respects that they responded expeditiously under difficult circumstances. The conference will adjust conference schedules accordingly.”
Since the 2012 season already began for the team, all of the student-athletes lose this year’s NCAA eligibility; however, the athletics department is “trying to look into what other rules [are] within the NCAA and [if there are] litigating circumstances that would have an opportunity [to not lose this year of eligibility],” Mooney said.
Volleyball head coach Jennifer Salmon, the volleyball team and the other defendants did not respond for comment on the decision.