Virginia Wesleyan Athletes Punished for Team Gathering

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Virginia Wesleyan University has suspended several women’s basketball players for attending an off-campus gathering, while senior forward Makenna McSweeney says she has been dismissed from school.

WTKR talked with an assistant captain that said 11 members of the team have been kicked out of on-campus housing in Virginia Beach due to breaking COVID-19 protocols. According to The Virginian-Pilot, McSweeney says she hosted the team-only Thanksgiving gathering, and that a neighbor called the school after getting into an altercation with one of the players.

“We were called in (Wednesday), myself and the teammate that was in the altercation,” said McSweeney, who didn’t give details into the altercation and said charges have been filed. “They said the neighbor had basically threatened to sue the school if we were not dealt with. The only claim they had is that we had a social gathering. The school can’t give us an explanation for (the punishment).”

WTKR received a copy of McSweeney’s dismissal letter, which said “the gathering violated the terms and regulations of the University’s efforts to mitigate the effects of COVID-19.”

"The University takes very seriously the safety of the campus community and has strict COVID-19 safety measures and protocols in place to protect the health and well-being of students, faculty and staff, Virginia Wesleyan’s statement on the issue read, according to WTKR. “This information has been communicated clearly and regularly and we are proud that our community members have largely done their part to keep themselves and their peers safe.

“Unfortunately, several members of our women’s basketball team violated these protocols with a gathering at an off-campus apartment. The consequence was suspension from on-campus housing and additional discipline by the intercollegiate athletics department.

“There are also strict athletic practice protocols in place by the University and the intercollegiate athletics department. These protocols have been repeatedly communicated throughout the campus community, athletic department, and all teams. During practice, the women’s basketball team wears face coverings and plays in a controlled environment overseen by athletic staff, coaches and sports medicine personnel."

Sophomore Jessica Jennings told WTKR that the protocols are tough, because the team “can hike together, we can practice together, we can be in the same room for study hall for two hours but we can’t eat together as a team.”

“I would like to be reinstated and for them to come back by saying their decision was unnecessary,” McSweeney said, according to The Pilot. “But I’m on the fence if I even want to return to the school. A lot of the girls are just at a loss. Nobody even knows if they want to play basketball again.”

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