By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The black cloud hanging over the LIU-Brooklyn Blackbirds' upcoming defense of their consecutive Northeast Conference championships has been lifted, albeit with some conditions, the Downtown school announced Monday.
Reigning NEC Player of the Year Julian Boyd, All-NEC forward Jamal Olasewere, starting shooting guard C.J. Garner and sophomore swingman Troy Joseph were suspended from school following their arrests for a physical altercation during an on-campus party on Sept. 15. The four were charged with assault, but swiftly appealed the suspensions, resulting in a university investigation.
After what school provost Gale Stevens Haynes called "careful consideration" of the players' appeals, the administration ruled this week that all four could return to classes and team activities, but would be banned from the first two NEC games of the season.
"The University has lifted the suspensions and placed the student-athletes on probation, requiring that they continue to participate in an anger management program and undergo counseling, as well as perform community service," declared an official statement from the school. "Additional sanctions will be imposed by the athletic department, including game suspensions."
“The University has concluded its investigation and has heard the appeals of the four members of the LIU Brooklyn men's basketball team," added LIU athletic director John Suarez. "After a thorough review, the University has lifted the suspensions of the student-athletes and has placed them on probation. In addition to sanctions implemented by the University, the Athletic Department has suspended the four players for the first two Northeast Conference games of the 2012-13 season.”
Boyd, Olasewere and Garner, the team's three on-court leaders during their storied run to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances under former coach Jim Ferry, as well as Joseph allegedly got into a heated argument with members of the school's track team before things got physical. The ruckus reportedly then spilled over into an ugly skirmish with other members of the student body, as well as a DJ who was hosting the party.
The incident threatened to derail the Blackbirds' bid for an unprecedented third straight conference crown before new coach Jack Perri could begin his tenure. But Monday's ruling, though tenuous in its language, will allow Perri to have his full complement of starters for all but two games this season, which will be the last at LIU for his three heralded seniors.
The Blackbirds, winners of 27 consecutive home games at the Wellness Center, will begin the season Nov. 9 at Barclays Center against non-conference foe Morehead State. The official 2012-13 NEC schedule has yet to be released, meaning the dates for the players' suspensions is still to be decided.
LIU went a combined 34-2 in league play the previous two years under Ferry, who took the head coaching job at Duquesne after spending a decade turning the Blackbirds into a legitimate NCAA contender.
“These guys are really fortunate they’re being given a second chance,” Perri told the New York Post on Monday. “They have a pretty tight leash and they will have to be perfect. … We’re not gonna tolerate that kind of behavior. We hold ourselves to a high standard in our campus and in our community.”
In other LIU-Brooklyn sports news, Suarez on Monday also announced the hiring of Kayla Jones as the new women's bowling coach.
Jones comes to Downtown Brooklyn after a standout four-year bowling career at Kutztown University, during which she was named the NCAA Division II Bowler of the Year as a snior after leading the Golden Bears with a 206.5 traditional team average.
“We are excited to have Kayla join our staff,” Suarez said. “She has a tremendous amount of experience competing at a high level at Kutztown, and I am confident that she will lead our program to new heights in the years to come.”
“I'd like to thank John Suarez and the athletic department for this opportunity,” Jones said. “I'm very excited to join the LIU staff, and help continue the school's success with the bowling program.”
No stranger to the Blackbirds' league, Jones was named to the All-NEC First Team in 2012 after spearheading the Golden Bears' charge to a fourth-place finish at the NEC Championship. For her efforts, she was also named the Kutztown University Female Athlete of the Year.
The Blackbirds, who are coming off a record-setting campaign that saw them register a school-record 48 wins, will begin their season on Oct. 20-21 at Jones' alma mater for the Kutztown Fall Baker Invitational.
Senior goalkeeper Jennifer Bannon didn't have to make a single save Sunday during defending NEC champion LIU's 1-0 victory over Bryant in Smithfield, R.I.
But the blank slate put Bannon atop the women's program's all-time leaderboard in career shutouts with 21, as well as pushing the Blackbirds' unbeaten streak to three.
LIU, which improved to 2-1-2 in conference play, got the only goal it needed from senior Nicole Labo in the 32nd minute.
Thanks in large part to a strong defense and Bannon's brilliance in net, the Blackbirds have held opponents scoreless over the last 342 minutes of play, a streak they hope to extend Friday against Monmouth at LIU Field.
The Blackbirds' men's soccer squad battled to a 2-2 double-overtime draw with visiting Quinnipiac on Sunday at LIU Field as senior forward Jakeem Johnson and freshman Tanner Sica each scored goals.
Senior goalie Nathan Stockie stopped 15 shots for LIU, which is 1-1-1 in NEC play and 2-7-2 overall this season.
LIU returns to action Friday afternoon at Bryant.
The St. Francis men's soccer squad fell to 2-2 in NEC play with Sunday's tough 2-1 loss at St. Francis (Pa.) in Loretto, Pa.
Sophomore forward Kevin Correia scored his team-leading seventh goal for the Terriers (5-6-1 overall), who will be back on the pitch Friday against Central Connecticut State at Brooklyn's Aviator Sports Complex.
Still hoping to reach the NCAA Final Four for the third time in program history, the St. Francis water polo team pulled out a 14-11 victory over visiting MIT Saturday night on Remsen Street.
Junior goalie Igor Mladenovic stopped 21 shots and senior attacker Marko Gencic led the offensive attack with a match-high four goals for the Terriers (8-8), who will jump back into the pool Oct. 20 against Harvard in Brooklyn Heights.
Brooklyn native Shani Abrahams continued to light up the scoreboard for the new Brooklyn College women's soccer program.
Abrahams scored three goals Saturday as the Lady Bulldogs ended a two-game losing streak with a dominating 8-0 blanking of Medgar Evers.
"We needed this game after a couple tough losses," said BC head coach Patrick Horne."We encouraged each other and played as a team."
Abrahams, who leads BC with seven goals, hopes to help the Bulldogs (3-4-1) even their season record when they visit CCNY on Saturday.
The NYU-Poly men's soccer team improved to 5-8 with Monday night's 6-0 victory over Sarah Lawrence in Yonkers, N.Y.
Sophomore Andres Torres was one of six goal scorers for the Jays, who host Old Westbury Wednesday night at Aviator.