By Kathleen Kraemer
The ESU ice hockey team is currently under investigation after B-team coach Brian Divis and former coach Dave Nufrio made allegations of hazing and alcohol use against the A-team and their head coach, Andrew Nowicki.
The allegations involve, according to the “Pocono Record,” claims from Divis of “hazing, partying, and drinking,” sometimes on the buses used to transport the A-team between games.
Accompanying the allegations is a crude cell phone video, which allegedly depicts Nowicki shouting, “The rookies this year will chug,” while encouraging team members to drink out of an ice skate. From the video, the contents of the skate cannot be determined.
Nowicki replaced his father as coach of the A-team shortly before the beginning of the 2012 season. Dr. Brenda Friday, Director of University Relations, told the “Pocono Record” that Nowicki no longer has any involvement “…resigned with the club in early December.”
Divis and Nufrio, however, claim that although Nowicki is no longer actively coaching, he is still involved with the team.
A-team members declined to comment on the situation.
The Student Activities Association (SAA) has funded the ice hockey team and its accompanying club.
The SAA Club Sports Officers’ Handbook describes hazing as “any action or situation which recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student…for the purpose of initiation or admission into or affiliation with, or as a condition for continued membership in any organization operating under the sanction of, or recognized as, an organization by an institution of higher education.”
The Handbook continues by clarifying that the definition includes “any physical brutality,” such as “forced consumption of any food, liquor, drugs or other substance,” among other things.
Additionally, Pennsylvania Act 175 of 1986 declares that any form of hazing is nonconsensual, and that “any activity falling within the definition of hazing is considered to be a forced activity.”
Among the allegations are questions about the hiring process for coaches at ESU. Divis told the “Pocono Record” that he believes the university should have run a background check on Nowicki before allowing him to become A-team coach. Nufrio echoed his sentiment.
Friday declined comment on the hiring process used.
Nowicki was among six students arrested in 2009 for involvement in a marijuana trafficking ring operating around campus, among other crimes. He pled guilty to all charges and was placed on probation for a year.
According to public records, Nowicki has also been charged with two DUI’s, first in 2011 and then again in 2013, the latter resulting in 30 days of house arrest, which he served from July to August of 2014.
The A-team’s season was suspended following their January 23 game against Penn State Brandywine as a result of the allegations. The team had been 10-9-1 and had just qualified as the sixth team in its division for the Delaware Valley Collegiate Hockey Conference (DVCHC) playoffs. The suspension disqualified the team, allowing the University of Delaware to claim the vacated spot in the playoffs.
Tom Galambos, DVCHC Commissioner, told the “Pocono Record” that ESU’s team will be allowed to compete next year as long as they are in good standing.
When asked about the situation, Friday responded, “Serious accusations have been made against the ice hockey club and those allegations are currently being investigated by university officials. Because this is an ongoing investigation, we are unable to comment at this time.”
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