Office of the President
2006 Softball Season
Friends of the University,
As some of you know, the University has canceled the remainder of the 2006 softball season because of an incident in which a recruit was treated at the hospital for alcohol overdose. The 17-year-old high school senior was on an official visit to campus March 24 when she attended a party hosted by a group of our softball players. Alcohol was served to the recruit and she later became unresponsive, prompting the players to place a 911 call. The young woman spent five hours at Enloe Medical Center before being released to her father, who had accompanied her to Chico for the visit. They returned home and she is reportedly doing fine.
The softball players involved have been removed from the team and face a range of punishments from disciplinary probation to suspension. Coach Teri Rupe and Athletic Director Anita Barker were in full agreement with the decision to cancel the season. Their comments about the incident and other details are on the University's news release here.
As painful as the decision was to make, it was important for the students to understand this behavior will not be tolerated. Our approach is the same whether it is a University fraternity, club or athletic team - we expect students to act responsibly. In this instance, members of the softball team were asked to be good hosts during the visit of a potential future student athlete; as such, they represented the University, just as they do when they wear a uniform bearing the Chico State name and colors. This makes the choice to serve alcohol at a party an especially poor one. That several of the players consuming alcohol at the party were under 21 only exacerbated the situation.
The use and abuse of alcohol is a tremendous challenge on college campuses right now. However, by working with students to change a culture of drinking, we are making progress. This fall, ninety-nine percent of our incoming freshmen completed a program on alcohol education, Alcohol.edu, used at more than 350 colleges and universities in the U.S. The Greek chapter houses affiliated with the University are now mandated to be drug and alcohol free, based on recommendations by the Greek Life Task Force, and Chico Police have reported a reduction in noise and disturbance calls at the fraternities. In regards to how recruits are treated, Athletic Director Anita Barker has ensured that all student athletes will be part of a process to adopt best practices in recruitment, and will know exactly what is required of them.
Wildcat Athletics is a great source of pride for all of us. Chico State finished third in the nation among Division II programs in the 2004-05 Director's Cup, a prestigious competition for the best overall collegiate athletic programs in the country. With the women's basketball team having just finished its best season in history, capped by a first-ever Final Four finish, the University stands to do very well again this year. We have an outstanding group of student athletes. I'm certain the program will overcome this setback involving the softball team and show the way with respect to student behavior and integrity.
My confidence in our intercollegiate athletics program is also reflected in my most recent column for Inside Chico State , the faculty and staff newsletter. This was written before the softball incident. And I would not change a word. It can be accessed at: http://www.csuchico.edu/pub/inside/06_04_13/president.shtml.
Very truly yours,
Paul J. Zingg