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The Penn State rugby program was reinstated and head coach Don Ferrell stepped down Friday, according to multiple reports. Assistant coach Chris Amoratis will step in as interim head coach.
The team was suspended last month when players Chris Petri and Sean Herbert were charged with felonies in connection with the burning of an athletic department storage shed, and the police investigation brought to light discontent among players with Ferrell's coaching.
“We are extremely disappointed that two members of Penn State’s rugby program were allegedly involved with and have been charged with arson for the fire that led to the destruction of the rugby and cross country teams’ shed on Jan. 14,” Penn State athletic director David Joyner said in a release.
“However, based upon the results of a thorough investigation by the Office of Student Conduct, Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics has determined that a very limited number of players were connected to the incident in any way. A vast majority of them were unaware of the crime’s connection to the team. As a result, the team’s suspension has been lifted immediately.”
Penn State stood to lose its spot in the Collegiate Rugby Championship in June had the suspension lasted, much like Army last year.
Recent suspensions of other high profile programs, like Delaware, Utah and Army lasted much longer, but Penn State chose to act quickly and not make an example of the rugby team, which has an elevated status as a team sport, and is thus overseen by the athletic department and not a campus recreation or student body.
“After meeting with the team’s student leaders, we feel strongly that positive strides are being made to honor and respect the history and legacy of rugby at Penn State. We also believe that team members will positively represent themselves, their teammates, Intercollegiate Athletics and Penn State in a first-class manner at all times,” Joyner said. “Although this was an extremely unfortunate situation, we are confident that the men’s rugby program will learn and grow stronger as a result.”