FRANKLIN — At a time when the MIAA continues to preach sportsmanship, Tuesday’s meeting left mixed messages.
In a followup from a Nov. 5 incident in which a soccer official was the victim of a physical altercation involving a pair of Martha’s Vineyard players, officials from both Martha’s Vineyard and host Norwell gathered at the MIAA headquarters before a panel composed of members of the sportsmanship, officials, and soccer committees to determine the next course of action.
Administrators from Martha’s Vineyard and Norwell were present. The two players who initiated contact with the official were not at the meeting.
Phil Vaccaro, the MIAA liaison on the soccer and sportsmanship committees, opened the meeting. Shortly after, Norwell athletic director Sean McInnis motioned for an executive session leaving all non-committee members — including the media — waiting outside while the meeting continued. McInnis argued for the motion as protection toward the student-athletes from Martha’s Vineyard and so that officials from both schools could speak freely. The motion was approved, 5-0.
“I appreciate the schools trying to do what’s best for their students,” said MIAA Communications Director Tara Bennett. “It should be noted that there were some really nice moments of sportsmanship that were displayed. They completed the handshake. The officials were there for the handshake as well.”
After the meeting, McInnis and Martha’s Vineyard Athletic Director Mark McCarthy declined comment. Neither school’s administrators were willing to offer comment. Once members from both schools exited the closed-door session, the committee went back into executive session to determine whether further punishment is warranted toward Martha’s Vineyard.
Martha’s Vineyard did not appeal the one-year suspensions handed down by the MIAA toward the two players as a result of their physical conduct towards an official. Those players’ suspensions are effective dating to the incident and are in place until Nov. 6, 2020.
No committee members were available for comment at the MIAA, but Vaccaro was reached by phone Tuesday evening, where he expressed satisfaction with the closed-door meeting.
“I thought it went extremely well,” Vaccaro said. “Xaverian’s assistant principal Chris Vasta, the chairman of the MIAA sportsmanship committee, did a superb job of facilitating the discussion. Both Martha’s Vineyard and Norwell were very upfront. There was no disagreement at all as it pertained to what happened.”
Bennett, meanwhile, stated that any potential additional discipline will be announced by 3 p.m. on Wednesday.
“A decision will be made if there needs to be any further discipline towards the coach, the school, or the program,” said Bennett. “That could be asking the coach to go through coaches education. It could be specific sportsmanship training. That is all based on what was heard from Norwell and Martha’s Vineyard.”