University of Utah suspends its club rugby program
The University of Utah rugby club program has been suspended by the school for the rest of the 2012-13 season and will miss all of the 2013-14 season because of unspecified player behavior, according to Rugby USA.
Rich Cortez, college director for USA Rugby, said the suspension was a consequence of a previous disciplinary action that occurred last fall. USA Rugby is the national governing body for rugby.
Susan Miller, who oversees rugby as part of Utah's intramural sports program, contacted USA Rugby to inform them of the school's decision, according to Cortez.
"I'm not privy to the details," he said. "But they came to us and we're working with the university. Each university has different rules and regulations and if there are any disciplinary matters we would fully support that."
Several phone calls to Miller on Wednesday were not returned.
Each team must register with USA Rugby to qualify to play for the national championship, which takes place May 18.
Rugby Magazine reported Tuesday that word of the Utah program's penalties surfaced after BYU Rugby released a statement saying the upcoming Wasatch Cup was cancelled because the Utah Rugby program had been suspended.
Contacted Wednesday, Utah Rugby coach Blake Burdette said "We are trying to understand the process of what's going on," but declined further comment.
According to the magazine, the Utah program is registered with USA Rugby as the Salt Lake City Rugby Club, part of a compromise forged with the university after the initial player behavior violation. The team played the Fall 7s season unofficially as the University of Utah, but officially was de-coupled from the university.
BYU Rugby coach David Smyth told the magazine that Utah's suspension was bad for all concerned.
"The timing of the news is obviously not good," he said. "Our boys are definitely disappointed at not being able to play against our rivals.
"The Wastch Cup is a big deal in our state and it not only hurts both our programs not to play this game, it hurts rugby in general here in Utah. It's a sore and sad day for both programs."
A team is being sought to replace Utah in the upcoming Varsity Cup, which begins April 20 at UCLA. Utah was scheduled to play Air Force that day.