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January 29, 2008
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Parents: Alcohol involved in girls basketball team suspension (update)

Bear River's varsity girls basketball team, the two-time defending Sac-Joaquin Section champions, will forfeit the remainder of the season.

Ten of the 11 players on the Lady Bruins roster, and four other winter sports athletes, were suspended from school athletics due to a violation of the school district's athletic code.

The suspended athletes had attended a party in Granite Bay where alcohol was consumed, several parents of players and one of the team's members told The Union. School officials declined to comment whether alcohol or drugs were involved in the violation.

"From information that was provided to Bear River administrators, late last Thursday, and through a process of investigating that information, it has been determined that several of our winter sports athletes, from several different sports, have violated our district athletic code," school officials said in a statement.

"The consequences, as outlined in the athletic code, are that these student athletes are suspended from athletic participation. As a result of those suspensions, Bear River High School will not be able to field a varsity girls basketball team for the remainder of the season, which means they will forfeit all games remaining on their schedule."

Bear River Athletic Director Duwaine Ganskie, who led the Lady Bruins program for several years and now coaches the varsity boys team, said he's never seen a basketball season end in such a way.

"I've never seen anything like this and have never heard of anything like this," Ganskie said. "We've had individuals or a pair of kids or even three or four ... but what makes this unique is there were so many from one team all at once.

"They made a decision that went against the athletic code agreement they had with us, and they have to take the consequences that are also outlined in that athletic code. And the same code we asked them to follow, we are now following."

But some parents of the players who signed the code say the document pertains only to behavior at school related activities.

"The contract I personally signed, as I read it, the code violations for alcohol were to be enforced during a school activity or field trip where she was representing the school," said Peggy Greven, mother of Heather Greven, a 16-year-old junior with the Lady Bruins. "When I signed the contract that's how I read it to be."

"When we went over it, and Heather and I both went over it, that's what we understood it to say when we signed it."

Heather Greven said she would not have attended the party or consumed alcohol had she known she could be kept off the court for doing so.

"If it said 'no drinking at any time' ... you know, I've been playing basketball since the second grade ... there's no way I would have been drinking, no way at all," she said. "I was at a private party, at a private house off the school campus and not in any way related to the school.

"I admit I did something wrong, but at least let the punishment fit the crime."

School officials and coaches met with players and parents Monday night to discuss the school's investigation of the violation and the resulting consequences. The evening, according to all involved, was an emotional one.

Some parents at the meeting were in agreement with the decision to forfeit the remainder of the season, while another group of parents were vehemently against such action, said Larry Uno, father of senior point guard Chandre Uno.

"I myself, I'm not totally neutral but I can see both sides," Uno said. "There were some parents that were definitely on one side and on the other. It's unfortunate ... It's not the parents against the parents against the administration ... There's probably going to be some hurt feelings. I don't know how long it's gonna take to get over this."

The situation is reminiscent of an incident involving Nevada Union's baseball team in 2005, in which seven Miners were sent home for an athletic code violation during an official trip to San Diego. Those Miners were suspended for seven games.

According to that policy, if alcohol was involved the players were to be removed from the team under the district's "zero tolerance policy."

The district's policy was changed in the aftermath to afford athletes an opportunity to earn their way back onto the squad after a 30-day period in which the athlete has been subjected to suspension from activity, enrollment into a drug diversion program and mandatory drug and alcohol testing. But at this point of the season, only five more games remain within the next two weeks, making the 30-day probation period moot.

"Anytime that we're involved with students where there's been some inapropriate behavior, we acknowledge that, we learn from it, we help them to get through it," said Bear River Principal Jim Nieto. "We move on from it."

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The Union Updated Jan 29, 2008 07:10PM Published Jan 29, 2008 07:10PM Copyright 2008 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.