Nearly every member of the University of Michigan-Dearborn softball team has been suspended due to a practice deemed illegal.
According to WDIV Local 4, an NBC affiliate in Detroit, 20 Dearborn softball players have been suspended two games after a practice in a church gym in Troy. The practice was deemed a violation because the team was not allowed to practice for three weeks.
Dearborn has gone back and forth over whether or not to play spring sports this season. The Detroit News reported in mid-February that Dearborn would only allow teams to practice this spring, starting March 1. The university reversed course a day later, deciding to compete after reportedly hearing “an impassioned plea by a student-athlete at the virtual UM Regents meeting, in addition to the revelation of a meeting of conference athletic directors Thursday with ‘new information’ regarding health and safety.”
“UM-Dearborn has prioritized the health and safety of our campus community from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and has used these guideposts to reach decisions about university operations,” Ken Kettenbeil, Dearborn vice chancellor for external relations, said in a statement when announcing sports would move forward. “Over the past year, the university has made adjustments to guidelines and policies as new information has become available.
“On Thursday, February 18, the university learned that schools within the Wolverine Hoosier Athletic Conference are working to implement more stringent health and safety guidelines relating to their student-athletes, including ongoing testing plans and a mask policy. In addition, the athletic conference is working on a conference-wide policy that will help ensure the health and safety of all student-athletes.
"These new policies align with those that UM-Dearborn’s athletics department W in their return to training and competition plan.”
Dearborn’s main concern with playing sports this spring is that other teams in the Wolverine Hoosier Athletic Conference aren’t following COVID-19 testing and masking guidelines up to Dearborn’s standards.
According to WDIV Local 4, softball player Madelin Skene fought to play and reached out to other schools to check in on their COVID-19 protocols.
“Other schools in our conference have confirmed with us that they said they were willing to do whatever they needed to in order to play us based off of our safety expectations,” Skene said at the February virtual meeting. “All in all, Chancellor (Domenico) Grasso and whoever else concedes to him is responsible for all these college careers that have been ruined.”
Doug Skene, Madelin’s father, believes that the suspensions were a retaliation from the university.
“Madelin said what she said based on the information that she had gathered,” Doug said. “This absolutely feels like retaliation against a young student athlete who called them on the carpet and they didn’t like it.
“I couldn’t understand how a group of girls gather at a church, work on some drills, and yet, that wasn’t allowed. Not only was it not allowed, now it’s being recognized as punished.”