Suspensions, expulsions and disciplinary hearings have followedin the wake of the basketball sex scandal. After a loss toPittsburgh, several players broke curfew and went to Club Erotica,where Grady Reynolds, Elijah Ingram and Abraham Keita met SherriAnn Urbanek-Bach and brought her back to their hotel.
According to comments from police and Urbanek-Bach published inthe Daily News and New York Post, she had been drinking heavilythat night and accused the trio of raping her because they refusedto pay her $1000 after engaging in sexual acts.
The 38-year-old Urbanek-Bach later recanted, and now facescharges of filing false police reports, extortion andprostitution.
While the accusation of rape was dropped after Ingram turnedover a cell-phone recording to Pittsburgh police, the story hasgarnered national coverage since it broke on Thursday. The Big Easthas also asked ESPN to cancel television broadcast of the upcomingUConn game in hopes of avoiding embarrassment from the scandal.
“This is an unfortunate circumstance. One of the things youwould never imagine happening,” coach Kevin Clark said at a pressconference on Friday.
Although Pittsburgh police have not filed charges against theplayers, all three, as well as teammates Lamont Hamilton andMohamed Diakite, are facing disciplinary action by the University.Reynolds, who was charged with assaulting St. John’s swimmerRacheal Seager last year, was immediately expelled, Keita has beensuspended from the team permanently, also faces the possibility ofexpulsion. Diakite and Hamilton were both suspended from the teamindefinitely while they await disciplinary hearing. Ingram hasdecided to withdraw from the University on his own accord. Joneswas suspended for Sunday’s game against Boston College and couldface further disciplinary action by coach Clark. In addition astudent manager was suspended from his duties for his connectionwith the incident.
“The students were in violation of team rules,” Director ofAthletics Dave Wegrzyn said. “The actions of the student athleteswere inappropriate and inconsistent with the University code ofconduct.”
Wegrzyn and Clark made it clear that the University does notconsider the incident the result of a staffing problem. “We’rereally dealing with human beings, and we have to understand thatfirst and foremost,” Clark said. “Young people don’t always makethe best decisions.” However, St. John’s hired former assistant RonRutledge as the team’s third assistant coach for the remainder ofthe season. Wegrzyn blamed poor decision making on the part of thestudents.
The story has caused additional problems for. Harrington. Inseveral interviews, he blamed the culture of the men’s basketballprogram. Although he did not mention former head coach Mike Jarvisby name, many believe that his criticism was directed at him. “It’snot productive to discuss who recruited them. People know whorecruited them,” said Harrington in the Daily News, referring tothe players involved the scandal.
Jarvis stood by his coaching tenure in another Daily Newsarticle, saying, “I don’t have to defend my record and what I havedone and what I stand for. I’m no less of a coach, no less of ateacher than I was a year ago.” It is unclear whether Harrington orJarvis breached the confidentiality agreement of Jarvis’ recentseverance package.
Harrington has also received criticism from students for his useof the word culture in reference to the basketball and soccerteams. “Culture is really what it’s about. For example, we have amen’s soccer team here at Saint John’s and I have no doubt…I’mgonna go out on a limb here…I don’t think it could happen there,”Harrington was quoted by ABC Channel 7. Harrington clarified hiscomments in subsequent interviews, saying, “I’m not talking aboutethnic or religious culture.” and issued an official apology.