For the second time in less than three months, Boston University’s reputation was tarnished by the actions of a player on the men’s hockey team. Early Sunday morning, defenseman Max Nicastro was arrested and charged with two counts of rape stemming from an alleged on-campus incident.
The accusations against Nicastro come after forward Corey Trivino was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a BU resident assistant on Dec. 11.
Both Trivino and Nicastro have been kicked off the hockey team and are not enrolled at BU while their cases continue through the court process.
The similar charges against two members of the same team has created many questions about the environment surrounding the hockey team and whether the team could have done more to prevent either incident from occurring. On Thursday, BU President Robert Brown announced he was forming a task force to study the culture and climate of the hockey team in response to Trivino and Nicastro’s alleged actions.
BU coach Jack Parker, who was unavailable to speak to The Daily Free Press until Thursday, addressed some of the questions surrounding his team in an interview early Thursday afternoon.
Parker said he thinks there are many differences between the accusations against Trivino and Nicastro, but acknowledged both shared similar roots.
“It points to a problem of control or drinking, and one of the things we talk about all the time at the beginning of the year is we lay down ground rules that we talk about in actions and consequences,” Parker said. “Specific consequences regarding specific actions having to do with drugs, alcohol, and the way you treat people around here and sexual behavior. We will talk some more about that, obviously.
“When we don’t get what we want as far as we don’t have people staying up to the standard we like, we deal with it.”
That the Nicastro incident occurred so soon after the Trivino incident raises the question as to whether the coaches did enough after Trivino’s arrest to help the team learn a lesson from it. Parker said he thought the team had been making progress, but he was willing to consider other ways to get through to his team in the wake of Nicastro’s alleged actions.
“I thought we took more action to try to give them more information,” Parker said. “Obviously what we are going to look at is, ‘What else can we do?’ We think we are doing as much if not more than a lot of other schools, but we have to look at, ‘What else can we do to give these kids, to make these kids better able to handle their situation here as a BU hockey player and as a student?’”
Many of the details leading to Nicastro’s arrest have not been made public due to the sensitive nature of a rape case, but Parker said he believed most of the team was at a bar with Nicastro on Saturday prior to the alleged incident. The team is allowed to go out drinking one night per week, and the designated night is almost always Saturday night. Nicastro is of legal drinking age. Parker said he is not aware of any underage players being at the bar with Nicastro and the rest of the team that night.
Nicastro was arrested early Sunday morning, and Parker was informed of the arrest around 8 a.m., the coach said. Parker suspended Nicastro from the team indefinitely while the matter was investigated. Once Nicastro was arraigned on Tuesday morning, he was suspended from the university itself and was therefore kicked off the hockey team, since a player who is not enrolled in school is not eligible to be on the team.
Nicastro’s alleged sexual assault follows a campaign on the part of all four Beanpot schools to wear white ribbons on their helmets during the Beanpot in order to raise awareness to stop violence against women. As part of the campaign, the team took a pledge to commit itself to preventing domestic violence and sexual assault.
Parker said he does not think Nicastro’s arrest one week after wearing the ribbon on his helmet will affect the campaign itself.
“I don’t think it has any effect on it whatsoever,” Parker said. “We participate in that because we believe in that.”
Parker also said Nicastro’s arrest is not a poor reflection of BU hockey’s recruiting strategy, as he said he does not believe these two arrests are a result of recruiting bad character players.
“I think one of the things we really try to do is make sure we recruit good character,” Parker said. “We do it in a lot of different ways as far as finding out about parents, finding out about school reports, finding out about a whole bunch of different things. I don’t think this is a matter of we recruited bad-character kids who came here and acted up. I think it’s a matter of kids who got here and didn’t know how to handle stuff that was going on here for them.”
As far as the way the remainder of the team has been handling yet another arrest leading to sexual assault charges, Parker said his team is definitely struggling.
“I feel like the team is very down,” Parker said. “I feel like the team is down because of what it makes them look like, how they look.
“Hopefully they can separate one thing from another, and the most important thing is being a good citizen and being a good teammate and being a good student-athlete around here.”
Parker addressed the possible response from fans, students and alumni who are now ashamed of or unwilling to support the team, saying he understood their sentiments completely.
“I would say that there is an awful lot of people that are very, very down on BU hockey right now, and from the information they have they probably have a right to be,” Parker said.
This weekend, the team will not have to face its fans and will leave behind the news cameras that have been parked outside of Agganis Arena. The team will travel to the University of Vermont for a two-game series against the Catamounts.
Parker said despite the signs and taunts the team may hear from opposing fans in Vermont, a trip away from campus should help the team recover from a difficult week.
“One of the things we want to make sure is, ‘Hey guys, go about your business like you’re supposed to. Go to class. I know this is difficult. I know people are probably staring at you in the dorms and in the cafeterias but you’ve got to be a student-athlete around here and take the next right step,’” Parker said. “And the next right step for us is to get on the bus and go to Vermont.
“I’m sure that there are some guys that might be relieved that they don’t have to see some people around campus because maybe they feel uncomfortable. Maybe they will feel uncomfortable when they walk on the ice in Vermont. Who knows?”