July 17, 2007 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Lowell Decides to Keep MacDonald

CHN Staff Report

LOWELL — Massachusetts-Lowell coach Blaise MacDonald will keep his job, according to the school, after apologizing to the school and the community.

In a court appearance Monday, MacDonald admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol. A judge continued the without a finding, which will eliminate the charge from MacDonald's record if he stays out of trouble for a year.

MacDonald's license was suspended for 45 days. He must also complete an alcohol-treatment program.

"It saddens me to know this act goes against the very message of responsible behavior that I have strived so hard to instill in my student athletes," MacDonald said.

MacDonald was picked up in Chelmsford, Mass., May 29 after he was found by an officer sleeping in the driver's seat of his vehicle. MacDonald failed multiple field tests and two Breathalyzer tests, both of which showed him at more than twice the legal limit, according to police.

Marty Meehan, chancellor of the University of Massachusetts system, immediately suspended MacDonald without pay. But in light of the apology, the school lifted the suspension, as of next week.

According to the school, MacDonald will also take part in an alcohol-education program on campus, and donate money to the Alcohol Awareness Education Program of the University's National Youth Sports Program.

In a statement, Lowell athletic director Dana Skinner backed MacDonald, who he said he's known for 18 years.

"It's not a secret on campus that driving after drinking is an issue I feel fairly strongly about," Skinner said. "In our environment example is everything."

Skinner cited MacDonald's comprehensive apology, and his years of standout service as reason enough for him to be reinstated. As Skinner pointed out, Lowell has had few, if any, disciplinary problems compared to other Lowell sports teams, and the team's cumulative 3.0 grade point average is the highest of any men's team on campus.

This incident came in the aftermath of Lowell nearly losing its program entirely. The program was saved after the school worked out a new lease deal with the city over Tsongas Arena. The program was then buoyed by the sale of 350 new season tickets in a campaign to boost support for the team.

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