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McAlarney suspended for two semesters

Bobby Griffin | Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Notre Dame basketball player Kyle McAlarney was suspended for the spring and summer semesters Monday and is currently on his way home to Staten Island, N.Y., his mother said in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon with The Observer.

Janice McAlarney said her son – a sophomore who was charged with possession of marijuana Dec. 29 – was not dismissed from the University, but the news of a two-semester suspension came as a shock.

“[Notre Dame] coach [Mike] Brey thought he was dressing Kyle … tonight for the St. John’s game,” Janice McAlarney said. “I have not spoken to Coach Brey [since the decision was made]. He’s 16 miles away from me right now with the team, and he’s where he has to be. I don’t blame basketball in this at all. I think he was caught way off guard also.

“The athletic department and [Notre Dame Athletics Director] Dr. [Kevin] White told me they were as surprised as I am, they were shocked.”

Senior Associate Athletics Director John Heisler told The Observer Tuesday he was unable to comment. Notre Dame sports information director Bernie Cafarelli said she could not comment due to privacy laws.

Brey cannot comment on the situation either, Cafarelli said.

McAlarney, who was pulled over during a routine traffic stop near campus early in the morning on Dec. 29, is at least the seventh Notre Dame athlete to face suspension or dismissal in the past eight years.

In 1999, Irish tailback Tony Driver was suspended from the football team for a parietals violation. In early 2002, football players Lorenzo Crawford, Justin Smith, Donald Dykes and Abram Elam were dismissed from the University following accusations of raping a female Notre Dame student in an off-campus house. Later in 2002, Irish running back Julius Jones was suspended for academic delinquency.

Since McAlarney is suspended for the spring and summer semesters, not dismissed – which under the University’s disciplinary handbook, du Lac, means permanent expulsion – he will have the opportunity to reapply for the fall 2007 semester.

Associate Vice President for News and Information Don Wycliff told The Observer Tuesday morning he “can’t talk about any individual’s disciplinary or other records,” and Residence Life and Housing Associate Director Lori Maurer said under federal law she’s unable to comment on the specific case of any individual student.

But Janice McAlarney said her son met with Office of Residence Life and Housing officials Monday at 4:30 p.m. Brey was only present for 10 minutes before he had to leave for New York City, Janice McAlarney said. The Irish play tonight against St. John’s at Madison Square Garden.

She said her son received the decision a little before 5 p.m.

“He’s lonely, he hit the road last night, my husband flew to Ohio to meet him … he can’t drive all the way by himself,” Janice McAlarney said. “He’s heartbroken, he didn’t expect this.”

Janice McAlarney said she understands Kyle McAlarney made a bad decision, but feels strongly that “the punishment does not fit the crime.”

Nobody has given her any answers, she said, as to why her son was suspended for both the spring and summer sessions instead of only the spring term.

“Why did you suspend him for two semesters?” Janice McAlarney said. “Other students I know who the residence committee met, they were suspended for one semester. I’m not getting an answer for why he was suspended for two semesters.”

Maurer did say the University makes no distinction between athletes and non-athletes when it comes to disciplinary matters.

Students, like Kyle McAlarney, possess the opportunity to submit a case review if there’s a “procedural defect in the disciplinary process which would have been substantial enough to have changed the outcome” or “the discovery of substantial new information which was unknown to the student at the time [of the hearing],” according to page 184 of du Lac.

Students cannot submit a case review if they feel the punishment is too severe.

According to page 94 of du Lac, “students who possess illegal substances including marijuana “shall be subject to disciplinary suspension or permanent dismissal.” On the other hand, distributing illegal substances “is a serious violation which shall result in disciplinary suspension or permanent dismissal.”

There is nothing in the specific section of du Lac stating that possession of marijuana is automatic grounds for suspension or dismissal from the University.

Janice McAlarney said she felt the decision had something to do with making an example of her son, given his position as a public figure at Notre Dame.

“I think he would have gotten one semester if he was just a regular student. I think we could accept that, understanding [he broke a law],” Janice McAlarney said. “But two semesters, and when he already sat seven Big East games? And they did it without his teammates around him, I mean, where is the compassion?”

Two weeks ago, McAlarney entered the St. Joseph’s Country pretrial diversion program, a system that allows certain offenders to have charges eventually expunged from their records. Janice McAlarney and her husband had been with their son at Notre Dame for the previous three weeks. But Janice McAlarney returned to New York on Sunday night.

“I had left. I had just left town a couple hours before,” she said. “I’m very angry that they did not tell me, as the mom that, you know what, maybe you should stick around because it’s not good news.”

Janice McAlarney said the family wouldn’t encourage Kyle McAlarney to explore his options at other schools, and that it’s been her son’s dream – as well as the family’s – for him to attend Notre Dame. While she said that “[Kyle McAlarney] still wears the Notre Dame shirt proudly,” right now, they’re unhappy with the specific disciplinary process.

“I think they made their decision three weeks ago and that’s what angers us,” Janice McAlarney said. “I think they strung us along for three weeks. I think they should have just put it out on the carpet then.”