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UMaine to investigate softball team photos

The University of Maine
is investigating online photos taken last year showing members of the Maine
softball team apparently drinking alcohol and making lewd gestures while
dressed in outrageous costumes.

Athletic Director Black James characterized the photos as a
“potential hazing-type situation.” The online photo album is labeled
on a Web site as a “rookie party” and shows then-freshmen players
participating in some of the photos with seniors looking on.

“We’ll be investigating what is going on in the photos
and meeting with those involved to really determine what happened and why the
situation occurred,” James said.

The photos came to light after the Bangor Daily News was
provided an Internet link to photos that appear on the Web site,
which is not affiliated with the NCAA.

The newspaper reported that the photos, which were uploaded
in March 2006, show team members apparently drinking alcohol, engaged in
cupcake fights, dancing, mugging for the camera and making lewd gestures.

James said he is particularly concerned because other photos
from a similar party were posted in 2005 to the same Web site, which tracks
hazing incidents at universities and colleges nationwide.

Stacey Sullivan, the softball head coach and a 1999 Maine
graduate, said she was “shocked” and “embarrassed” when she
saw the photos Friday morning.

“In terms of the acts depicted in the photos, it shows
our students in a questionable manner that they should be embarrassed
about,” Sullivan told the newspaper from North
Carolina, where she was on a recruiting trip.
“We will take great strides in regaining our reputation and the integrity
of our program.”

There is no timeline for when the university will finish its
investigation, James said. This will be at least the third such investigation
of potential hazing James will have conducted since he became athletic director
in May 2006.

The guidelines set down in the University of Maine
Student-Athlete Code of Conduct and University of Maine Code of Conduct will
determine the punishment, if any, of those involved in the party, James said.

Information from: Bangor
Daily News,

– Associated Press

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