It has been a tumultuous and troubling season for the Boston University men’s hockey team and coach Jack Parker.
The latest blow came Sunday morning, when star defenseman Max Nicastro was arrested for rape. He was the second BU player arrested for sexual assault in 10 weeks.
Parker said there was not a great deal he could share about the specifics of the Nicastro case, other than to say Nicastro will get due process through the Dean of Students office and the court system. Nicastro has been suspended indefinitely from the hockey team.
“I don’t know how this thing plays out,’’ he said yesterday by phone. “It remains to be seen.’’
Parker wanted to be very clear that the school, the athletics department, and the hockey program believe in transparency.
Parker was forthright when discussing Corey Trivino, who was arrested for sexual assault Dec. 11. Parker doesn’t believe the incidents are symptomatic of a larger problem.
“I hope it’s a horrible coincidence,’’ said Parker. “I don’t want this to be the culture of our team and if it is, we’ll change it. We’ve had problems in the past but we’ve dealt with them and gotten rid of kids we didn’t want in our program, whether it be drinking, school or a whole bunch of things but we’ve had a few instances and dealt with kids and removed them from our program because they weren’t living up to our standards and that’s how we will look at Max. Is this the culture of the BU hockey team? Is this the culture of BU athletics? If it is, the buck stops here. But I don’t believe it is.’’
Parker said the standards at BU are high and for student-athletes, they’re even higher.
“Not just BU hockey but BU athletics in general, all the coaches hold these kids to a higher standard [in terms of] how they conduct themselves academically, and on the playing fields and in society,’’ said Parker. “We want to make sure we hold them to that standard and if anybody falls below it, we deal with it. I don’t think anybody has ever thought that Boston University in general, or the BU hockey team in particular, covered anything up or tried to quiet things down and keep it in house just so a kid can play another game. That’s not our M.O. That’s never been my M.O. and we deal with individual cases as they come. There are going to be bad instances, no question, and when they happen, we deal with them and I think we’ve dealt with them appropriately over the years and we’ll deal with this one appropriately but there’s nothing to be dealt with right now other than the suspension until we see what happens.’’
Parker said that unlike Trivino, who had issues with alcohol, Nicastro had not been in trouble.
He said BU tries to give student-athletes resources to make good decisions and to understand proper conduct and the consequences of improper conduct and how to avoid getting into dangerous situations.
“I think the university and the athletic department in particular has done a great job in trying to make sure [the players] on both the men’s and women’s teams know what’s expected and how to conduct themselves,’’ Parker said.
Parker said hockey obviously hasn’t been the priority the last couple of days. He had a brief meeting with his team Sunday and they will practice today.
“This is not a matter of, ‘Hey, I hope you can get over this to win the next hockey game,’ ’’ he said. “People are injured here, people are hurting here, people are feeling bad here.’’
The Terriers have four games remaining in the regular season, beginning Friday at Vermont.
“It’s not a very good situation all around but one of the things I like about my team is that they’ve been resilient and they will support their teammate but at the same time, they will support their other teammates in the room,’’ he said. “I told them, ‘We know who we are, we know what type of citizens we have on this team. People will be painting this with a broad brush and you’re just going to have to [keep your chin up] and go about your business as you’re expected to go about your business as a good student, a good athlete, and a good citizen.’ ’’
Parker said he can’t be worried about what the outside world is thinking about him and his program.
“If I was worried about what outside people think of me and my program, I would be in a straitjacket probably,’’ said Parker. “There is no sense in trying to convince people of this or that. Some people will assume some things and some people will assume other things and in many, many areas, assumptions get proven incorrect.
“I’m hoping it plays out as best for everybody involved as possible but this is about due process. I want to assure anybody who is looking at our program that if there is reason for it to be dealt with severely, it will be dealt with severely. It will be dealt with fairly and properly just like we have in every other instance. We’ve had a sterling reputation here for a long time. We’re not covering anything up. We’re not trying to save anybody’s reputation.’’
Parker said neither player has been convicted and their alleged misdeeds have yet to be adjudicated, but he believes he has his finger on the pulse of the team and it’s not pernicious.
“If there is a problem with my team, that stops with me, that’s my problem and I should be painted with that brush,’’ he said. “Is drinking a problem in college athletics? Yes. Is sexual misbehavior a problem with college students? Yes.
“Do we expect that our guys and gals understand that and take a little bit better look at how they conduct themselves? Yes, we do and we try to give them all the information we can and give them all the help we can to make good decisions but good people make bad decisions and sometimes bad people make bad decisions but we don’t know what the decisions are here. I don’t think the brush should be dipped in the paint yet.’’
He said he and his team will try to make the best of the rest of the year.
“I feel bad for everybody involved. Nobody’s going to come out of this a winner,’’ he said. “This is a bad situation and it remains to be seen how bad but we’ll deal with it.’’