A Few Bad Apples

In late April of 2010, former Boston University hockey players Vinny Saponari and Corey Trivino were rumored to have released their first single. “Party like a Puck Star.”

I’m on a bitch bangin’ mission
And I score like an all-star…
You know broads be at my game…
Grabbin’ for my cup…
And I don’t even know their names….
I do like I do cause im always in the spotlight, 
Step aside hoes, if you don’t keep your mid-tight.

Boston University has developed some of the most well-respected hockey players in the world. You would hope that the players privileged to be a part of the program would know better than to release a song like this.  You would hope they would have enough respect for their coaches, their teammates, and their alumni to reconsider such an immature, egotistical, and offensive behavioral display.

One can only wonder what they were thinking when they released a song that referred to women as “broads, hoes, and bitches,” all in under a minute. And when they decided to say “Party like a puck star, Do it with the red and white like a terrier,” they compounded their own stupidity by sullying the reputation of the university, their teammates, and anyone who ever played for or rooted for the team.

In May of 2009, Boston University head coach Jack Parker announced that he was releasing Vinny Saponari (as well as Victor Saponari) from the Boston University hockey team and suspending Corey Trivino.  Fans called his actions “harsh” and “unfitting.”

But in the official press release from Boston University, Parker stated: “Over a period of time there have been cumulative instances in which Victor and Vinny Saponari have displayed conduct unbecoming of a Boston University Hockey Player… In a related issue, Trivino will be suspended for the early part of the season.”

Vinny Saponari, a former USNTDP Under-18 team player and Atlanta Thrashers draft pick, had scored 48 points in 82 games as a regular in the Terriers’ lineup; in other words, his productivity – if not his personality – would be missed. Trivino was a 2008, New York Islanders second round draft pick who also had a potentially bright hockey future ahead.

Parker had summarily dismissed and suspended two of his best players to preserve the Boston University hockey program’s reputation. The reasons were believed to be that the players had violated the team’s alcohol policy on St. Patrick’s Day, just two days before the team’s Hockey East semifinal loss to Maine. Parker issued a mandatory bike ride to all involved players as punishment for the drinking violation, which they failed to attend. Parker had finally lost his patience.

What Parker did was make clear that playing Boston University hockey is a privilege and not a right, that the coaching staff  is not willing to operate as a babysitting service, and that those players who aren’t mature enough to wear the Terriers’ red and white would forfeit the privilege of doing so.

Parker asked Trivino to consider treatment for alcohol abuse, but he refused. When Trivino had another alcohol-related incident last spring (his third documented incident), Parker issued an ultimatum.

“Corey knew in September that if he had another alcohol-related incident on campus or off campus, he would be gone from the team,” Parker told BU’s The Daily Free Press. Parker didn’t care if Trivino was the team’s leading scorer and first-line center. His career at BU would come to an end.

It’s reported that Trivino spent Sunday, December 11th 2011, watching the Patriots’ game with his teammates, in compliance with the team’s alcohol policy of when they are permitted to drink.  Sources say his teammates insisted he stay inside, as he appeared to be intoxicated, and not join them when they went out.

According to the police report obtained by the Daily Free Press, that night a female resident advisor entered a room Travino was in and asked the students to quiet down.  As she was leaving, the allegedly intoxicated Travino followed her back to her room, pushed his way inside, and proceeded to forcibly kiss and grope her. Trivino left the room after the resident advisor insisted he do so, but returned twice more, and he continued to forcibly kiss and grope the women. The third time he entered the room, Trivino allegedly refused to leave, laying on the women’s bed and taking off his shoes, while supposedly telling her he would sleep there.

According to the report, only when he heard her on the phone with police did he finally run out of the room. Boston University Police arrived on scene and found a visibly intoxicated Trivino riding in an elevator.  When asked where he lived, Trivino gave the accuser’s room number. He was then arrested. Per Trivino’s request, BUPD notified the Canadian consulate after he was taken into custody.

Parker was alerted of the incident at around 1 a.m. on Monday morning, and after confirming with an attorney that Trivino would be represented in court, dismissed the player from the Boston University Hockey Team.

Trivino was charged with three counts of indecent assault and battery, two counts of breaking and entering in the nighttime, and one count of assault with attempt to rape. The Toronto native pleaded not guilty to all charges during his arraignment. Bail was set by Judge David T. Donnelly at $25,000 cash or the surrender of Trivino’s Canadian passport. He was ordered to stay away from the accuser and the BU dorms. The 21-year-old Trivino was then released on his own recognizance, after turning over his passport. He was scheduled to reappear in court on January 18th.

Ten weeks later, on February 19th, 2012, the University’s hockey team would find itself wrapped in scandal again.  On Sunday morning at 6:30 AM, 21-year-old Max Nicastro, a defenseman on the Boston University hockey team, was taken into custody by Boston University Police, where he was transported to Boston Police District 14 in Brighton. He was held in custody, until his arraignment on Tuesday morning, where he entered a plea of not guilty after being charged with two counts of rape.  He was released on Tuesday for a $10,000 bail payment and permitted to return to his home state of California.

A probable cause hearing is scheduled for March at which time the prosecution while present its case and reason for arrest. The defendant will be afforded the full right of cross examination by his legal council.  If the prosecution cannot prove probable cause, the court must dismiss the charges against the accused. If they do find probable cause, they will proceed to a superior court for trial.

Social media and reports are now flooded with accusations, claiming that women are in fear of the Boston University hockey team. Articles have come out with statements from students speaking out against the hockey team’s behavior. Among other things, they claim that the team is rude, intimidating, crude, and disrespectful.  Students are claiming that in the same dorm where Corey Travino was charged with committing sexual assault, hockey players often scared, harassed, and intimidated women. One student told Boston University’s Daily Free Press, “We don’t open the door. But I mean if we did, I can only imagine. What if the attack happened to one of us? They’re big guys, we can’t fight back.”

Before you call for the crucifixion of an entire organization, know this: these claims and quotes are opinions, not facts. Opinionated articles do nothing but fuel speculation, assumptions and rumors. They allow prejudices and stereotypes to impact perceptions. There are stereotypes against hockey players; just as there are stereotypes against female sports reporters. But the alleged actions of few individuals should not define the character of an entire organization. Because of shield and privacy laws involving the nature of these cases, any facts which do not become public record will not be given to the media to prevent the defamation and slander of both the accused and the victim.

On Friday February 24th, 2012, Boston University President Robert A. Brown issued a letter to students and faculty announcing the formation of a task force to investigate the culture of the Men’s Ice Hockey Team on campus.  With the full support of Jack Parker, he assured the Boston University community that if they found misconduct within the Men’s Ice Hockey Program, they would take the necessary steps to correct it.

All too often, assumptions are made about cases of such a sensitive nature.  Too often the victim is put on trial, and too often people presume guilt before the defendant has the right to a fair trial.

In this case, people who don’t know the judicial system and don’t know the facts are frantically searching for someone to blame. They are turning their anger toward the media, and speaking out against the University and the people they deem to be responsible.  But it’s important to note that no one covered these incidents up. The University and the hockey program acted swiftly and responsibly and dealt with both accusations head on.

If the alleged sexual assaults have in fact occurred, then no one is to blame but the attackers themselves.  Stop blaming alcohol, hockey, or the university and blame it on the selfish, twisted individuals who commit these crimes. For if they’re found guilty, they have absolutely no one to blame but themselves.

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