Columbia County investigators are trying to determine who purchased the alcohol for 18 Greenbrier High School boys soccer players who were suspended and kicked off the team for drinking on a team trip.
The suspensions came with the recommendation for long-term suspension.
“Eighteen students out of the 25 on the boys team have either admitted to or have been implicated by others in their testimony and evidence and statements by others that did participate in illegal drinking while on a school-sponsored trip,” said Columbia County School Superintendent Charles Nagle at press conference Thursday afternoon.
But more than underage drinking was involved.
“I was told that two students admitted to, and I don’t know how that came about, but they admitted to smoking Spice, which is a synthetic marijuana,” Nagle said.
The students are on a 10-day suspension pending a school disciplinary hearing, which Nagle said should be held next week.
“We may allow any of those who did admit to go ahead and waive their rights to a hearing and we will place them immediately in the alternative school so they don’t miss any school time,” said Nagle.
Any students who waive their right to a hearing could start at the alternative school as early as Monday, March 25, Nagle said.
The incident took place when the soccer teams traveled to Jekyll Island for a tournament March 14-16. The drinking supposedly took place mainly in hotel rooms during the tournament.
The incident came to the attention of school administrators through posts on a Twitter account, and the school safety officer started looking into Twitter accounts and social media.
“Students started being questioned... they admitted their participation in what had taken place in hotel rooms,” Nagle said.
Because of the illegal activity, additional reporting was needed.
“We did call the sheriff’s department and the sheriff’s department made a type of incident report to acknowledge that this was reported,” said Nagle, who added that the incident took place out of the county’s jurisdiction and there was no physical evidence.
Columbia County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Rick Whitaker said, however, that the agency “will concentrate our efforts on finding out who supplied the contraband to the students.”
Nagle said he was “devastated” and “disappointed” by the “bad decisions made by a group of young men,” said others should pay heed.
“We hope this does send a message to everyone else that you’re not above following the code of conduct and our expectations if you want to represent this school system,” he said.
The suspensions cast a pall over Class AAAAA’s No. 2-ranked Wolfpack (7-0-2), who are scheduled to play host to No. 1-ranked McIntosh (12-0), Saturday, March 23 at 4 p.m.
The Wolfpack can still officially clinch first place in Region 2A-AAAAA with a win in one of its next two region games against Lakeside or Grovetown.
Multiple phone calls to school administrators were not immediately returned.