On Tuesday, March 8, a University football player pled guilty to one count of possession with the intent to distribute as well as to the distribution of a synthetic hallucinogen closely resembling ecstasy to his teammates. This marks the University’s third student to be reprimanded by the federal court of Connecticut in the past year.
Manager of Media and Public Relations Lauren Rubenstein confirmed that the student has been suspended. He was released from jail after posting bail at $100,000.
“We are aware of the case against one of our students, but cannot comment on the specifics of a pending legal matter,” Rubenstein said. “The student is currently on interim suspension from Wesleyan, pending a campus judicial hearing.”
The defendant was selling “2C-B and 2C-E,” which is otherwise referred to as a mix of molly and acid. The concoction was originally dealt in liquid form via water bottles, and then progressed to powder formula in clear capsules. The student was able to anonymously obtain the drug from the dark web using a virtual payment method known as Bitcoin.
“I want to assure you that Coach [Dan] DiCenzo and I take this matter extremely seriously, and we are continuing our efforts to provide drug education and prevent illegal drug use by members of the team–and all student-athletes,” wrote Athletic Director Mike Whalen ’83 in a letter to the school’s football alumni. “Over the last two years, in addition to meeting regularly with players to help identify and address problems, the athletics department has implemented several programs including the Safe and Sober Campus Initiative, the NCAA Step-Up Program, and bystander intervention education. I am currently planning a spring symposium for all student-athletes with current and former leaders in health and public safety, and law enforcement.”
It is reported that 15 to 20 players purchased the drug last fall for 10 dollars per dose. According to an affidavit prepared by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, some of these dealings even took place inside the team’s locker room.
“Too many young people believe synthetic drugs are harmless party drugs when, as this case makes abundantly clear, they are highly dangerous,” said U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut Deirdre M. Daly in a press release.
Whalen further spoke to his message for all student-athletes at the University.
“My message to our athletes is clear: behavior like this is unacceptable and being a student-athlete at Wesleyan is not a right but a privilege,” Whalen wrote. “Whatever failings may have happened in this instance, they have nothing to do with the aggregate achievements of the many young men working hard to become better people, earning an education and proving that academic integrity and football success can thrive together.”
It is unlikely that any other members of the team will face consequences or are subject to additional criminal investigation.
The Cardinals had a successful season, reaching a record of 5-3. Seven student-athletes were named to the conference’s all-academic team, three players were given first team all-NESCAC distinctions, and another three were honored with second team all-NESCAC laurels.
The federal investigation commenced last fall when a sophomore at the University was found unresponsive and convulsing in his dorm room after ingesting MDMA. The student was transported to Hartford Hospital, where he spent several days recovering from his near-fatal experience. Investigators discovered that the guilty football player supplied the drugs taken in this instance.
“I set high standards for our student-athletes, and when they fail to meet those standards, it is extremely disappointing,” Whalen wrote. “However, it is what we take away from these situations that is most important: not only do an individual’s actions affect the individual, they have ripple effects on coaches, teammates, other student-athletes, our alumni, and the institution.”
Five former students at the University were arrested last February after being linked to an incident that caused eleven people to overdose on MDMA.
The University created the Illegal Drug Task Force (IDTF) in the aftermath of last winter, and it consists of faculty, staff, students, alumni experts, and consultants with professional experience. In a campus-wide email, the group described its mission as identifying the best practices with respect to illegal drug policy, creating outreach and prevention on campus, and improving student safety and wellbeing.
“The safety of our students is our top priority, and we have and continue to cooperate fully with the authorities on such matters,” Rubenstein said.
Members of IDTF declined to comment directly on the matter.
“I can promise you that the members of the Illegal Drug Task Force as well as the entire Wesleyan administration will continue to work tirelessly to make Wesleyan a safe campus for all of its students,” said the Athletics Representative on the IDTF Harrison Rafferty ’17.
On May 20, the student will face sentencing from Judge Victor A. Bolden, with a maximum of 20 years behind bars and a fine of up to one million dollars. It has not yet been made clear what the prosecution recommended in their pre-sentencing report.