CATONSVILLE, Md. (WJZ) — Another scandal for another local university. Five female lacrosse players at the University of Maryland Baltimore County are suspended, accused of making violent threats in text messages.
Derek Valcourt explains it’s who the threats were made against that’s raising eyebrows.
What’s surprising is these young women were apparently directing these threats at their own teammates. They were apparently frustrated that the freshman girls were getting more playing time.
On the field, UMBC’s female lacrosse players work as a team to take down their opponents. But newly revealed group text messages show some of the team’s veteran players with an apparent bitter jealousy over their freshman teammates.
UMBC officials say five players–all sophomores, juniors or seniors–wrote vicious posts about their younger teammates in a group text chat titled “Sophomores Rule.”
They posted things like, “Can we just kill them?” and “Kill the freshman.” One girl wrote that during practice she’s “aiming for her [teammate’s] shins and then I’ll aim for her red hair and head.”
So frustrated with how the freshman are treated, one player wrote: “Take down the coaches.”
“It isn’t who UMBC is at all and certainly is disappointing,” said Tim Hall, UMBC.
UMBC Athletic Director Tim Hall tells WJZ the women’s team practices were immediately changed so players had little or no physical contact while the school investigated. Days later, all five girls were indefinitely suspended from the team.
Some frustrated parents argue UMBC should have expelled those girls altogether.
Valcourt: “There have been some concerns raised that perhaps the discipline didn’t go far enough, that those concerns weren’t taken seriously. How do you respond to that?”
Hall: “I think it was taken seriously.”
Hall says UMBC is still investigating. Students on campus are not impressed with the vicious texts.
“It’s not appropriate at all whatsoever,” one student said.
“You can’t take these things as a joke because you never know what’s going through someone’s mind. They could be serious. And I guess that’s why they got suspended,” another student said.
In a statement, four of the five suspended players say:
“First and foremost, our hurtful, destructive words and tone are absolutely inexcusable on many levels. Our stance was utterly inappropriate and we are deeply sorry to the many we negatively impacted, particularly our hard-working teammates who deserve much better. Words cannot express our sense of regret and disappointment in ourselves. We know that everyone deserves to be treated with the utmost dignity and respect—we let our emotions get the best of us over time and we failed.
While repeatedly asked to lend our perspective about the many elements which caused the UMBC women’s lacrosse situation to escalate, we have been, and continue to be, focused on working privately with university leadership to move forward. Our goal is to humbly work through this difficult situation with hopes of achieving an outcome that makes the best long-term sense for all involved. Thank you for respecting our decision to handle this matter internally at this time.”
UMBC’s athletic director has ordered a comprehensive review of the entire women’s lacrosse program.