South River High School’s field hockey team was put back into the state championship tournament today after Severna Park High School’s team was withdrawn in the wake of one-game suspensions of all 24 varsity players and all three of the program’s coaches.
The suspensions came about after a school investigation into community incidents on Wednesday night and early Thursday morning in which more than two dozen residences were littered with toilet paper, business signs, and an assortment of food and other products. School officials have conducted interviews with players and coaches over the last two days.
After learning of the incidents and the sanctions imposed by the school, Superintendent George Arlotto made the decision to withdraw Severna Park from the Class 4A state tournament.
“While I realize that this is a very disappointing end to what has been a great season for Severna Park, the actions of players and coaches in this matter do not reflect the values we must have for our school system and our athletic programs,” Dr. Arlotto said. “Our student-athletes should be ambassadors for themselves and their schools in our communities.”
The school’s investigation to date has not shown that the team’s coaches were involved in the incidents, but that they were aware of a tradition of a team sleepover after a region championship win that had previously included throwing toilet paper at the homes of coaches.
“I echo Dr. Arlotto’s thoughts with regard to this unfortunate incident,” Severna Park Principal Patrick Bathras said. “Our motto at SPHS is ‘A Tradition of Excellence’ and this behavior does not exemplify those words, beliefs, or values.”
Officials at the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association were told of the decisions today, and directed Anne Arundel County Public Schools, per state tournament regulations regarding a school found ineligible during the progress of a tournament, to inform South River of its re-entry into the tournament. Severna Park beat South River in the region championship game on Tuesday, but must now forfeit that game.
South River will play in the state semifinal game on Monday.