USMMA men’s soccer reinstated for 2018

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USSMA Superintendent Rear Adm. James Helis, seen here at a Fleet Week event back in May 2017, originally suspended the men's soccer team amidst a federal investigation. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)
USSMA Superintendent Rear Adm. James Helis, seen here at a Fleet Week event back in May 2017, originally suspended the men's soccer team amidst a federal investigation. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

The men’s soccer team at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy has been reinstated and will  play again this spring despite an investigation into alleged sexual misconduct on a team bus in the fall of 2016.

USMMA Superintendent Rear Adm. James Helis had suspended the men’s soccer program for the fall 2017 season amid a pending investigation by the Transportation Department’s  inspector general that was referred to U.S. Department of Justice prosecutors.

The investigation focuses on the actions of seven now-graduated soccer players, who allegedly abused a freshman on a soccer team bus by throwing a banana and squirting him with urine.

The seven students, after being placed on deferred graduation status pending the investigation, took the school to federal court, where they denied the charges and argued that they were not given due process before action was taken against them.

A federal judge allowed them to walk during graduation. Following later private executive board meetings, the midshipmen received their degrees and licenses.

A spokesman for the Department of Justice declined to comment on the status of the case.

“The United States Merchant Marine Academy leadership announced today, that they will reinstate the Men’s Soccer Team for the 2018 NCAA nontraditional season,” a statement posted on the USMMA website on Feb. 14 reads. “The Academy has notified the Skyline Conference that the Academy intends to declare with the NCAA to sponsor Men’s Soccer for the 2018 season and resume a full Skyline Conference schedule.”

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Maritime Administration, which oversees the academy, confirmed on Tuesday that men’s soccer has been reinstated.

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