The suspensions came with the recommendation for long-term suspension.
“Eighteen students out of the 25 on the boys team have either admitted to or have been implicated by others in their testimony and evidence and statements by others that did participate in illegal drinking while on a school-sponsored trip,” Columbia County school Superintendent Charles Nagle said at a news
More than underage drinking was involved, however.
“I was told that two students admitted to – and I don’t know how that came about – but they admitted to smoking spice, which is a synthetic marijuana,” Nagle said.
The students are on a 10-day suspension pending a school disciplinary hearing, which Nagle said is expected to be held next week.
“We may allow any of those who did admit to go ahead and waive their rights to a hearing, and we will place them immediately in the alternative school so they don’t miss any school time,” Nagle said.
Students who waive their right to a hearing could start at the alternative school as early as Monday, Nagle said.
The incident took place when the soccer teams traveled to Jekyll Island, Ga., for a tournament March 14-16. The drinking reportedly took place mainly in hotel rooms during the tournament.
The incident came to the attention of school administrators through posts on a Twitter account. The school safety officer looked into Twitter accounts and social media.
“Students started being questioned … they admitted their participation in what had taken place in hotel rooms,” Nagle said.
Because of the illegal activity, additional reporting was needed.
“We did call the sheriff’s department, and the sheriff’s department made a type of incident report to acknowledge that this was reported,” said Nagle, who added that it was out of the county’s jurisdiction and that because it occurred during the weekend, there was no physical evidence.
Nagle, who said he was devastated and disappointed by the “bad decisions made by a group of young men,” said others should pay heed.
“We hope this does send a message to everyone else that you’re not above following the code of conduct and our expectations if you want to represent this school system,” the superintendent said.
The suspensions cast a pall over Class AAAAA’s No. 2-ranked Wolfpack (7-0-2), which is scheduled to play host to No. 1-ranked McIntosh (12-0) at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Officially, the Wolfpack still can clinch first place in Region 2A-AAAAA with a win in one of its next two region games against Lakeside or Grovetown.
Telephone calls to school administrators were not returned Thursday.