Plattsburgh State will have to reimburse the NCAA $3,375 in travel costs and two returning members of the PSUC women’s hockey team have been suspended for one NCAA Tournament game. According to the NCAA, the sanctions stemmed from misconduct at last spring’s Division III National Championships.
In a Nov. 9 statement, the NCAA said that a Snapchat video was brought forward in August displaying three team members drinking alcohol on the team bus after PSUC’s title match on March 18. The players were not named. The statement also claimed that administrators and coaches were aware of the activities that transpired.
PSUC appealed the decision in October, but the NCAA upheld the suspensions and reprimand, while reducing the financial penalty.
Athletic Director Michael Howard had hoped that the college’s internal punishments would have been enough but accepted the NCAA’s sanctions. What he took issue with was the NCAA’s notion that administrators knew about the misconduct.
“Obviously some mistakes were made, and I have no problem taking some responsibility,” Howard said. “Where Coach (Kevin) Houle and I take issue is the way the statement is worded. One could read into it in many different ways. We just wanted to make it clear that we don’t condone the behavior and it wasn’t something we were a part of on the bus.”
Houle agreed with Howard’s first sentiment, saying that the NCAA’s decision was unexpected in its severity.
“It was something that was wrong, and misconduct was there,” Houle said. “Their view of a punishment was a bit heavier than we expected. At the end of the day, it is what it is. We thought it was a bit excessive in all areas, but we have to deal with it and move on.”
Houle was not concerned this would affect recruiting.
“It will only hurt us if teams try to use it against us, and teams that do that walk a fine line,” Houle said. “Most kids and parents can see through negative recruiting, so I’m not too concerned about that.”
The news of the punishment dropped the day after the Cards suffered their first loss of the season, losing to the Norwich 4-3. Both national polls (USCHO.com, D3hockey.com) dropped PSUC to No. 2 in the nation, marking the first time since March 2, 2015 that the Cards have not been in the No. 1 spot, according to D3hockey.com’s Twitter account.
Houle hopes that will give PSUC some extra motivation to help move on and put this past week behind them.
“We’ll be hungry, because we did lose our last regular season game,” Houle said. “There still should be a bitter taste in their mouths from last Wednesday.”
Senior defenseman Lizzy Viola echoed her coach, citing the loss to Norwich as something to learn from.
“It’s never nice to lose, but it’s good for us to get reminded that we can be taken down,” Viola said. “It’s helped us refocus and get motivated to put a hurting on the next team we play and re-establish ourselves.”
This weekend, the Cards will play back-to-back Saturday/Sunday games against Oswego at home in the Ronald B. Stafford Arena.
This was the same back-to-back weekend series in which PSUC suffered its only loss last season, so Houle and Viola were not underestimating the team that they will be facing.
“We keep the loss from last season in our minds and know that we can fall if we’re not on our game,” Viola said.
Houle reiterated the fact that the team hasn’t forgotten about last year but was confident that they’ll start out on the right track this time around.
“They came here last year and were able to beat us, so they’ll have confidence,” Houle said. “If we come out and play with energy in the first, we should be in good shape.”
Email Ben Watson at firstname.lastname@example.org