By Melissa Proulx, Staff Writer
The findings of an independent investigation into the alleged misconduct of Scott Weitzell, the former director of operations for the University of New Hampshire men’s basketball team, were released on Friday, March 27.
Centered on Weitzell, who reportedly took photos and videos of undressed male players in the locker room after a game on Jan. 20, 2014, at the University of Vermont, the investigation was designed to provide clarity about the delayed reporting of the situation by the knowledgeable parties and the factors that contributed to this.
“In summary, let me say that [Weitzell’s] behavior was totally unacceptable and we have one of our athletic trainers to thank for bringing it to a stop,” Huddleston wrote in an email to the UNH community.
According to the report, one player said Weitzell hosted him in his hotel room during a road game at Stony Brook University on Feb. 8, 2014. Weitzell was reportedly drinking a beer and invited the player to sit on his bed. While the player sat on the bed, Weitzell touched his knee. The player then made an excuse and left the room.
The independent investigation was put on by Michael A. Delaney of McLane, Graf, Raulerson & Middleton Professional Association in Manchester.
The report described how two players had approached Meg Lesnikoski, an athletic trainer for UNH, about the UVM locker room incident.
“She was conflicted, scared and uncertain about what to do with the troubling information she received,” Delaney wrote in the report, referring to Lesnikoski. “She also had not been provided with adequate training regarding UNH’s policies on reporting obligations.”
The misconduct of Weitzell on Jan. 20 was not the only one mentioned in the report, however. According to the report, many players said that in general, they had heard rumors of misconduct pertaining to Weitzell.
On Feb. 8, 2014, Delaney also wrote that several players said they had seen Weitzell trying to record players in the locker room while at an away game once again.During that same trip, Weitzell had also allegedly invited a player to his hotel, where he made “suggestive comments to the player that made the player feel uncomfortable, and touched the player on the knee, causing the player to make an excuse to leave the hotel room,” according to the report.
According to previous articles from The New Hampshire, Weitzell had been arrested on Feb. 21, 2014 at his Newmarket home and charged with resisting arrest. He had tried to hide the phone that was allegedly used to take the photos and videos, and for refusing to put his hands behind his back when asked by an officer.
It was at this time as well that he was suspended from his position at UNH and eventually fired on Feb. 25, 2014.
According to an article on Seacoastonline.com from the Associated Press on July 11, 2014, Weitzell received a suspended 180-day jail sentence after pleading no contest to the misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest. In a plea deal, prosecutors had also agreed to drop the felony charge of falsifying evidence.
The report ended with a bulleted list of recommendations for UNH, many of them centered around the idea of improving reporting and dealing with situations like this in the future.
“The report determined that while we do many things well, we need to work even harder to communicate reporting responsibilities under Title IX,” UNH President Mark Huddleston wrote in the email to students announcing the publishing of the report.
It was Huddleston who called for the investigation, according to his email.
Delaney, a former attorney general, was chosen by the University System of New Hampshire board of trustees “because of his impeccable reputation for thoroughness and integrity,” according to a statement from USNH’s Chancellor Todd Leach on its website.
In response, Huddleston said he plans to double training efforts “not just in athletics, but across our entire campus.”
For example, Huddleston included in the email that Jaime Nolan, assistant vice president for community, equity and diversity, will be in charge of a new group designed to look “beyond simple compliance with the rule” for members of the UNH community.
Along with these plans to improve community response and training for the future, Huddleston also wrote to students to immediately report any suspicious behavior.
This, he wrote, can be done by contacting the UNH or Durham Police Departments, the office of affirmative action and equity, or by telling a faculty or staff member that you trust. Reports, he added, can also be submitted anonymously.
“Together we can – and will—make our community welcoming and safe for all,” Huddleston wrote to end the email.