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Procedure Snag Sends LU Issue to Square One

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Procedure Snag Sends LU Issue to Square One

The apparent sanctioning of Lindenwood University (St. Charles, Mo.) Men's Rugby is currently back to something like Square One after the initial sanctioning process did not follow protocol.

As reported earlier on Goff Rugby Report, Lindenwood was sanctioned for bringing the game into disrepute because of some foul play documented in a video during the season, and because of the number of player waivers the team had submitted to USA Rugby. However, the punishment was meted out at the DIA Coaches meeting, without holding an official hearing or giving Lindenwood the chance to answer the charges.

At the time of the DIA meeting, Lindenwood Head Coach JD Stephenson was away and manager Dan Ward was unable to attend due to an illness in the family. So no Lindenwood representatives were at the meeting. Still the coaches voted to ban Lindenwood from the postseason for one year. Lindenwood appealed to USA Rugby, and the matter was essentially remanded back to DIA because there could be no appeal of a sanction that hadn't gone through the proper process.

So now Jim Russell has been appointed as a judicial officer, and DIA has started over by filing a complaint, and then Russell will make a ruling after meeting with Lindenwood coaches. Then someone can appeal that decision.

Russell is considered a very thorough and even-handed arbiter, and can be depended upon to gt the process right. Meanwhile, Lindenwood University has already punished some of the players in the highlighted video, banning some from the playoffs, and making two repeat offenders attend anger-management classes.

Lindenwood's defense on the waivers is that there has never been a limit set on waivers before, so why would a large number be cause for punishment? During the last two years Lindenwood has been shifting its roster from a foreigner-heavy group to one more USA-based. However, one or two players have come under special scrutiny because of their overseas academic record, and some coaches in DIA have voiced concern over programs gaming the system. 

USA Rugby is expected to finalize some rules related to players playing in an academy setting (and thus being paid to play) while attending college, and players being paid to play in the USA while attending college. But more to the point, the disciplinary actions toward the Lindenwood men's rugby team are now starting over because no formal hearing was held in the first place.