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Soccer coach, players issued alcohol citations

October 01, 2005|By PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

CLEAR SPRING

A former Clear Spring High School volunteer girls' soccer coach has been charged and nine varsity girls' soccer players have been issued alcohol citations stemming from an alleged party they had together on Sept. 16, the Washington County Sheriff's Department said Friday in a written release.

Bryon Keith Burton, 35, of 11963 Boyd Road in Clear Spring, was charged with nine counts of furnishing alcohol to a person under 21, a civil citation that carries a maximum fine of $500. Nine girls were each cited with minor in possession of alcohol, the release states.

The party was brought to the attention of the Sheriff's Department on Sept. 16 at 11:30 p.m., when someone called the department to complain about noise coming from Burton's house, the release states. Deputies discovered nine girls drinking at the party, police allege in the release, and, after an investigation, determined Burton allegedly was responsible for buying them alcohol.

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Fourteen varsity girls' soccer team players were suspended after school officials learned of the party, according to published reports. The junior varsity girls' soccer team was moved up to play the remainder of the varsity season, canceling the junior varsity schedule, Robert T. "Bo" Myers, Washington County Public Schools executive director of secondary school administration, has said.

Burton, who was a volunteer coach, is "no longer with the team," Myers has said.

Burton was not available for comment Friday.

Washington County Public Schools students sign contracts at the beginning of the school year acknowledging they will lose their eligibility to participate in extracurricular activities if they use alcohol or drugs, or attend events where alcohol or illegal drug use occurs, Ed Masood, the school system's supervisor of athletics, health and physical education, has said.

Masood said the policy provides for suspensions of 45 days or the remainder of the season, whichever is longer.

On Friday, Masood said five of the suspended players have filed appeals, which he plans to review over the weekend.

Patricia Abernethy, the school system's deputy superintendent for instruction, said the appeals should be heard next week.

"We're still in the due process procedure stage of our investigation and our follow-up to the incident," Myers said Friday.

Asked whether the five girls not charged with alcohol citations would be eligible to return to the team, Myers said, "Through due process, if more evidence is provided that would indicate a change, certainly that could happen."

Myers said this is the first time he can remember such an incident occurring involving a coach and students allegedly drinking together.

"It's so totally discouraged by the school system," he said. "We've taken the appropriate action with that individual (the coach)."

Masood added that that type of alleged activity is "absolutely" not tolerated, a message he said should be extended to "the parents and the kids" in the county.

"Our expectation is that they abide by the laws of the state," he said.

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