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SUNY Brockport suspends wrestling program over potential COVID violations


SUNY Brockport says that as of Saturday morning it suspended its wrestling program pending the outcome of investigations stemming from potential COVID-19 policy violations. Two wrestling physical education classes have also been canceled for the Fall semester.

College officials say that on Friday, they first learned that one of its student-athletes had contact with an individual who had tested positive for COVID-19.

That student-athlete, following protocol, was immediately placed into isolation. Information also emerged of alleged violations of SUNY Brockport’s social distancing and face covering policies within the wrestling program and wrestling physical education classes, as well as other potential infractions. Officials say that resulted in the need to quarantine more than 50 individuals, including members of the wrestling program and their roommates on-campus. A group of off-campus wrestlers were issued quarantine orders as well.

The original student athlete tested negative for the coronavirus, so the other 70 or so students affected have been released from quarantine. That first student-athlete remains in quarantine per county rules, even though the student has tested negative.

SUNY Brockport President Heidi Macpherson released a statement which said that, “The behavior of our students, faculty and staff has been overwhelmingly positive since we have re-opened, and compliance with COVID-19 policies remains high. Unfortunately, we have learned that the wrestling program may have jeopardized the health and safety of our community, and this must be addressed. We are relieved that no one has become ill as a result of these alleged infractions, but risky behavior cannot go unchallenged. We are sending a loud message to the program and our entire community that such behavior will not be tolerated.” 

SUNY Brockport Athletic Director Erick Hart says he fully supports the decision to suspend wrestling activities pending the outcome of the investigation. He said that, “The vast majority of our student-athletes have role modeled positive behavior this semester. They have also played an active role in encouraging their classmates to do the same. We will not allow the actions of any one program to define our intercollegiate athletics program or put it at risk.”

SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras issued this statement on Saturday:

“SUNY Brockport President Heidi Macpherson and I spoke about her decision to suspend the wrestling program and launch a full-scale investigation into potential COVID-19 safety violations on the part of its members. This action is necessary and prudent. Recently, several campuses have had to suspend athletics as a result of noncompliance of health and safety protocols. If this continues we may have to take additional SUNY-wide actions to contain the virus. We have seen how quickly this virus can spread on a college campus – and how misbehavior by a select few can impact the vast majority of students who understand what is at stake. SUNY Brockport has the support of my office as they continue their investigation.”

The college wrestling program is not in season until the winter, and whether that happens in any case depends on guidance from the state.

A spokesperson for the college says they currently have no active cases of COVID-19 on campus.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.