Heading into the NorCal Invitation this past weekend the No. 3 California Golden Bears were without five players, which included sophomore attacker Max Bergeson, starting goalie and team captain Justin Parsons, junior attacker Tommy Gilfillan, junior attacker Perry Short and sophomore attacker Nick Santala. The two key loses from that group are Parsons and Bergeson.
Our very own Total WaterPolo has a source with knowledge of the situation, the five players have been removed from the team due to a drug related issue:
A source with knowledge of the program tells TWp that the Cal men's water polo suspensions were drug related.— Total Waterpolo (@TotalWaterpolo) September 18, 2012
When Cal head coach Kirk Everist was asked about the issue he cited privacy reasons as to not reveal why five players were kicked off the team (via The Daily Californian):
"We had a code of conduct problem," Everist said. "We had a number of players that gave me no choice but to remove them from the team."
Everist said that the code of conduct is not signed by players but is an internally recognized code that the all the athletes know about.
He would not say what the code of conduct violation was, citing his players' and team's right to privacy. Athletic Director Sandy Barbour also declined to comment on the situation.
Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour declined to comment on the situation.
Going through Cal's code of conduct, there is no specific discipline attached to students using a controlled substance. Here is the exact wording in their code of conduct:
102.17 Controlled Substances
Unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensing, possession, use, or sale of, or the attempted manufacture, distribution, dispensing, or sale of controlled substances, identified in federal and state law or regulations.
Some schools give multiple chances if someone is caught using, selling or testing positive for a controlled substance. In this case about Cal, all we really know is that the players were removed for a drug related issue. That can mean a lot of things, and there is no reason to speculate here to what exactly happened.
To discuss in the pool implications, this is a huge blow to Cal that is vying to earn a national championship. At the NorCal Invitational without key players Cal still went 2-2 with loses against UCLA and Stanford, both were one-goal losses, and the team still thinks they are capable of being a national contender.
So, it looks like they have the depth to hang with the top teams in the country. With the suspensions happening early in the season it will allow Cal to have time to mold the team with the new players that will be stepping up.
"Those guys will be missed," senior team captain Marin Balarin said. "Those guys were our teammates and our friends, but we have to keep moving on. We don't have time at this point in the season to lose focus."Senior Mason Cox echoed Balarin's sentiments but still managed to see a case for team improvement in the situation."It hurts, but in the end I think it helps the team," Cox said. "It makes us focus a lot more. It puts things in perspective. I think it makes the teams stronger as a whole and takes individualism out of the equation. You realize what you have to do as team."
Cal just has to move on without five players for the remainder of their 2012 season, and hopefully hat the players removed from the team can get their lives straightened out and learn from this experience.