Eight College gymnasts involved in incident at NCAA’s

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April 22, 2009

2:32 PM

*Updated: 4:10 a.m. Thursday*

Eight College of William and Mary gymnasts were involved in an after-hours theft last weekend at the NCAA Gymnastics Championships at the University of Minnesota — Minneapolis.

According to a Campus Police report, College gymnasts James Prim ’09, Jay Hilbun ’09, Richard Pearson ’09, Sloan Crawford ’09, Josh Fried ’10, Derek Gygax ’10, Chris Valeska ’11 and Andy Hunter ’11 were captured on surveillance video entering the UMN Sports Pavilion around 1 a.m. Saturday morning. While in the pavilion, Fried and Valeska took four banners emblazoned with “NCAA” and “ESPN” logos, worth a collective value of $2,000.

The banners were noticed missing the next morning, and the incident was reported to UMN campus police at 12:30 p.m. Security tapes from the Pavilion were reviewed, and a Minnesota gymnast who was present was able to identify several of the College’s gymnasts who had been involved.

The College athletes were then contacted and returned the banners, after which UMN decided not to press charges. Charges could have included trespassing and theft, according to UMN Campus Deputy Police Chief Chuck Miner.

Immediately after entering the Pavilion, Fried and Valeska took the banners, which had been used during the competition to cover up advertisements, and placed them near the entrance. Seven of the gymnasts proceeded to play on the gymnastics equipment for a brief period before being told to leave by a UMN staff
member. Hunter entered the building, but quickly left when he observed his teammates’ actions.

The athletes took the banners with them as they exited the building.

After the College’s athletes were identified on the security tapes the next morning, College Head Coach Cliff Gauthier was contacted and shown the tapes.

Gauthier confirmed that the athletes were from the College. The coach then contacted his team while they were eating lunch at a local restaurant, and the gymnasts returned the stolen items.

UMN Associate Director of Athletics Marc Ryan met with the gymnasts and decided not to press charges after consulting with police, Gauthier and an NCAA liaison present at the event.

“They owned up to what they had done, and they immediately returned the banners, which were not damaged,” Ryan said. “They had already paid enough of a price. They were remorseful and that was enough for me.”

Ryan did request misconduct charges from the NCAA which could result in fines for the program and the athletes involved. A report of the incident was also sent to the College’s Office of Student Affairs, from which the athletes could possibly face Honor Council sanctions. College Athletic Director Terry Driscoll said that the gymnasts would face internal punishment.

“The team members involved will be losing some privileges that go with being on the team, and they will be doing some community service,” Driscoll said.

Acting on behalf of his squad, team captain Max Sabert ’11, who was not present at the meet, declined to comment.

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