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UMBC women's lacrosse coach on leave amid investigation of alleged threats

UMBC has named co-coach Amy Slade (left) as the Retrievers' head coach. Tony Giro (right) is on leave from the university.
UMBC has named co-coach Amy Slade (left) as the Retrievers' head coach. Tony Giro (right) is on leave from the university. (Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun)

Tony Giro, the co-head coach of women's lacrosse at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, is on leave as the university investigates threats older players allegedly made against freshmen this month on a text-messaging group chat, officials said Wednesday.

Retrievers athletics director Tim Hall has appointed Giro's co-coach Amy Slade as sole head coach, the university said in a statement.

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Five players were suspended from the team last week after an initial investigation into the allegations. No players were hurt, officials say, but the threats prompted the university to halt all contact drills during practice.

The university has declined to comment on the content of the messages. Four of the suspended players apologized in a statement this week.

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UMBC did not explain why Giro was on leave, or whose decision it was. A spokesman declined to comment, saying it was a personnel matter.

Giro had served alongside Slade since July 2012. The university said he "is now on leave from the university to allow the Retrievers to focus on their upcoming conference season."

Giro declined to comment Wednesday. A phone call to Slade was not returned.

Giro's biography has been removed from the UMBC women's lacrosse website.

Sophomores Amber Kovalick, Meghan Milani and Mackenzie Reese and senior Alyssa Semones released a statement through a media relations firm Monday night in which they apologized for their comments in a group text conversation. They called the comments "absolutely inexcusable" and "utterly inappropriate."

Giro and Slade reported the comments to Hall on March 6, five days before the players were suspended. Hall said Monday that the investigation was ongoing and "all-encompassing" within the women's lacrosse program.

The mother of the fifth suspended player, junior Brittany Marquess, said her suspension was unrelated to the actions of her teammates.

In a letter sent to the team, Harriet Marquess said a confrontation between her daughter and another player had already been resolved between the two players' families when the suspensions were handed down.

"[W]e felt as a family that we had already sent out our own words to the only family that was involved in our particular incident," Harriet Marquess wrote. "Her situation involved one teammate and did not involve threatening to kill anyone or lump an entire group of teammates together. It was a direct response to an actual on-the-field incident."

katherine.dunn@baltsun.com

twitter.com/kdunnsun

cmcampbell@baltsun.com

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