From February 10-12, Springfield College hosted the annual Volleyball Hall of Fame/Morgan Classic volleyball tournament. On the night of the 10th, Springfield College Public Safety was called because a wallet was missing from the visiting locker room of Lee’s-McRae College. When public safety officers arrived on scene, they found two empty beer cans in the locker room and were told in passing that a derogatory comment had been found written on the whiteboard.
The wallet was eventually found in the player’s hotel room, but individuals who allegedly wrote the comment and left the beer cans have yet to be identified.
Public Safety was only called because of the missing wallet, according to Chief of Police Judy Jackson. Because the wallet was presumed stolen, this was the priority. Public safety officers were dispatched to the scene.
“The officers look around, they find two beer cans in the toilet,” said Jackson, “and one of the coaches alluded to the fact that someone had written on the chalkboard, something which the officers never saw because it was erased.”
The police and Springfield College administration are unsure if the individuals who committed this act were students or faculty of Springfield College. The message written on the board contained a phrase that contained the term “fags” followed by a hash tag and a name. Public Safety determined that the name on the board, which has not been made public, was not a player on either the Springfield College Men’s Volleyball team or the Lees-McRae team.
Jackson said that the Massachusetts State Police were called to determine if fingerprints could be taken off the beer cans, but it was ultimately unsuccessful.
According to Director of Athletics Cathie Schweitzer, the doors are supposed to be locked when a team leaves the locker room, but due to a breach in protocol, the doors were left unsecured that night. Schweitzer said that she was not aware of the event until after the tournament.
“A few days after that, Craig [Poisson, senior associate director of athletics] told me there was some derogatory remark written on the white board in their locker room and two beer cans,” said Schweitzer. “Bottom line is we messed up in our event management protocol. We did not lock their locker room after they came up to our match.”
Although Springfield College has been unable to determine the individuals who committed this act, a Springfield College student who wished to remain anonymous claims that it was several college students who were involved.
“The only thing I know about it was a bunch of people were drinking at the volleyball game and decided just to kind of walk in there,” said the student.
This student did not want to give up names of the students involved and indicated that there were more Springfield College students involved who had been drinking at the volleyball match and decided to venture into the locker rooms. The student claimed that the individuals involved did not have malicious intent.
No outside sources are able to confirm this student’s account of the incident.
Since the incident has taken place, the Athletic Department has taken steps to make sure that the locker rooms are locked during games and matches. Rather than have a member of the Athletic Department to unlock and lock the locker rooms every time a team enters and leaves the locker room, visiting teams will now be given their own keys. Because Athletic Department employees tend to be busy doing more than one job during games, it has been difficult in the past to ensure the locker rooms stayed locked throughout the games.
“There are so many people that go in and out down there, so that’s troublesome obviously that anything was written on our campus by us or a visitor,” said Schweitzer.
Schweitzer stressed that the Athletic Department values and respects diversity.
“We had a staff diversity training last spring with the NCAA [who] came in [and spoke] with our grad students and our coaches,” said Schweitzer. “We had a diversity workshop just a week and a half ago with our PAC leaders. It’s something that’s covered in every eligibility meeting at the beginning of the year, and I hope that coaches follow up on it.”