U investigates underage drinking

Lora Pabst

UEDITOR’S NOTE: See [Sports] for reaction from the men’s hockey team about the allegations.

University officials are investigating anonymous allegations that underage members of the men’s hockey team were drinking at Blarney Pub and Grill in Dinkytown in recent months.

“Whenever my office receives credible information that there may be student-athlete misconduct, we look into it and disclose what we find to the athletics director,” University General Counsel Mark Rotenberg said. “If it amounts to an NCAA violation, we report to (the NCAA).”

The University has not yet made a disclosure or statement that there has been an NCAA violation.

Rotenberg said that underage drinking is an unlawful act but is not necessarily an NCAA violation on its own.

The Office of the General Counsel is looking at a variety of possible violations, including student-athletes receiving improper benefits, such as preferential treatment by bar owners, he said

The investigation might include violations of the Student-Athlete Code of Conduct. If any violation is discovered, it would be reported to the athletics department, Rotenberg said.

Information from a recent Fox 9 News investigation showing underage members of the men’s hockey team drinking at Blarney is also being investigated by the Office of General Counsel.

“This Fox information that we received (Sunday) is being followed up on,” Rotenberg said.

Rotenberg said there are two reasons results of the conclusion have not been released.

“We do not disclose information that violates individuals’ privacy, and so we’re not going to go making broad statements about students or student-athletes until and unless we’re quite sure we know what we’re talking about,” he said.

“The second reason is we only disclose findings when the NCAA or the University community needs to be informed that something has happened.”

The issue of underage student-athletes being served alcohol at bars in the University community has been a concern in the athletics department for a while.

University officials have met with bar owners in the past to discourage them from serving underage student-athletes.

“We have been in touch with the bar owner and his lawyer,” Rotenberg said. “Our athletics department and coaching staff are going to be working to bring the message even louder and clearer that facilitating underage drinking by our students is completely unacceptable.”

Blarney owner Mike Mulrooney did not comment.

Steak Knife owner George Atsidakos said he doesn’t have a big problem with underage consumption in his establishment.

“What we do is put wristbands on everyone, and we walk around and see if the people drinking have those wristbands on,” Atsidakos said.

The Minneapolis Police Department’s license investigation division enforces compliance among businesses with liquor licenses.

Calls to the division were not returned by press time.

The athletics department had no comment as of press time.

Bryce Haugen contributed to this report.