DEARBORN, Mich. – Twenty members of University of Michigan-Dearborn’s softball team have been suspended after holding practice.
The recent practice was at a church gym in Troy where they were invited to use. The university was made aware of the practice and deemed it as a violation. The team was originally not allowed to practice for three weeks, but that changed to a two-game suspension for the players.
The university canceled the spring season for a second straight year last week.
However, a day after team captain Madelin Skene spoke in frustration of the cancellation at the Board of Regents meeting on Feb. 18, the university reversed its decision and reinstated the season.
Parents now believe the suspension is retaliation for students athletes speaking out.
“You fight to get the season back. Madelin said what she said based on the information that she had gathered. This absolutely feels like retaliation against a young student athlete who called them on the carpet and they didn’t like it,” said Skene’s father, Doug Skene.
Doug Skene said this type of first-time infraction should merit a warning as opposed to mass suspensions.
“I couldn’t understand how a group of girls gather at a church, work on some drills, and yet, that wasn’t allowed. Not only was it not allowed, now it’s being recognized as punished,” Doug Skene said.
In statement, U of M-Dearborn believes it struck the right balance of sanctions for not following athletic department rules and MDHHS and church guidelines, while still allowing the team to compete by staggering the suspensions.
“They changed the punishment. They made it more severe. And I don’t care what they tell me, until they could show me some proof of something of some kind, I’m going to believe that this is absolutely retribution,” Doug Skene said. “Can we just get these kids back on the field so they can play softball?”