STU dealing with athletes and drinking

The athletics director at St. Thomas University says the school is doing what it can to curb excessive drinking by its athletes and would be surprised if police decided to get involved with a recent rugby party that involved underage drinking.

No need to involve police, says athletics director

St. Thomas University's athletics director says the school is doing what it can to curb excessive drinking by its athletes and would be surprised if the police decided to get involved with a recent rugby party that involved underage drinking.

Mike Eagles says the university has dealt with the matter with a one-game suspension and the players have to make a presentation this week explaining what lessons they learned from the incident, which will determine whether they finish the season.

"At this point, we just felt we handled it the best that we could in-house," he said.

"I would be surprised if I got a call from the police to be honest with you."

Some of the senior rugby players bought liquor for a recent off-campus party with underaged players.

Two years ago, a rookie volleyball player died in a fall after taking part in a drinking party involving his team.

The university brought in a stricter code of conduct following the death of Andrew Bartlett, 21.

But many of this year's rugby players weren't around at the time, said Eagles.

They simply made a mistake, he said.

"We have meetings with the athletes at the start of the year. We're very clear — try to be very clear, in terms of what our expectations are. And it's even tougher expectations on student athletes. The reality is they're under more scrutiny than a non-student athlete," he said.

"They have to sign the code of conduct, versus having a code of conduct just posted. And we emphasize that when they do sign it, that they read it, clearly understand it and then sign it."

Although supplying alcohol to people under the age of 19 is a criminal offence, the university has not contacted the police, said Eagles.

"I think that the police have a lot on their plates. I don’t think they go around to the universities checking dorm rooms to see who’s underage and who’s not underage and who has alcohol," he said.

"I think our police have enough on their plate to worry about that."

Eagles described all of the players as "good guys."

"I don’t think that anybody should look at our rugby team as if they’re you know not good citizens," he said.

"Every time, parents, or whatever, you’re going to end up disciplining your kids, you don’t like them or love them any less and you don’t think any less of them.

"People make mistakes and then you deal with the consequences and then you move on. ... Obviously it’s the lessons learned along the way that eventually, you know, make a difference."