News 12 at 6 o'clock / Thursday, March 21, 2013
EVANS, Ga. (WRDW) -- They're usually one of the best teams in the state, but now Greenbrier High School's varsity soccer team doesn't even have enough players to put on the field.
Eighteen of the 25 team members have been suspended for allegedly using drugs and alcohol at an out-of-town tournament.
"We had 18 young men make a huge mistake," said a disappointed and embarrassed Charles Nagle, Columbia County's school superintendent.
Several of the players have admitted to drinking alcohol on the trip.
"Seventy percent of their players are gone. The students that remain with the school will have to continue on with the few student that they do have," Nagle said.
Officials say the drinking happened in the hotel rooms while the team was at a tournament in Jekyll Island last weekend. They also say underage drinking was not the only thing going on.
"Two students admitted to smoking spice, which is a synthetic marijuana," Nagle said.
"Disappointed obviously for the students, for the school, for my coaches, for the families of theses students. Just disappointed," said Greenbrier High Principal Chris Segraves.
While there have been questions about procedures and chaperones on the trip, Segraves says they followed all the rules, and there's no question who is responsible for what happened.
"They know the difference between right and wrong. They know what's lawful and what's not lawful, and they made those decisions, so yes, responsibility lies directly with the young men on this," he said.
He says there is a silver lining here.
"It's going to give quite a number of our JV soccer players an opportunity to step up to the varsity level," Segraves said.
School officials say most of the 18 players have admitted to drinking alcohol or smoking spice, but they all have a chance to tell their side of the story at a hearing. They're hoping to start those within the next five days.
As to how administrators found out -- social media is to blame. It came to light through Twitter. Someone saw a tweet about what was going on and alerted the administrators.
Nagle says since it is so close to the end of the school year, some students who admitted their participation might get the chance to waive their right to a hearing and be placed straight in an alternative school so they won't miss much class time.
He says seven players on the team had no involvement in the incident at all.