Alcohol and violence often go hand in hand, sometimes with deadly results. University of Virginia student and lacrosse player George Huguely has been charged with the murder of his former girlfriend, fellow classmate and lacrosse player Yeardley Love, who was killed during a violent altercation.
Huguely told police he shook Love during an argument before her death, hitting her head repeatedly against a wall. The two, both 22, had dated for at least a year, but sources say that Love had broken off the relationship in recent weeks. Huguely’s attorney has said Love’s death was a tragic accident.
In November 2008, Huguely was arrested for being drunk in public and acting with violence toward a female police officer during a visit to Lexington, Virginia. Huguely pleaded guilty to resisting arrest, public swearing, and public intoxication. The officer said that Huguely told her, “I’ll kill you. I’ll kill all of y’all. I’m not going to jail,” and that he also used a slew of racial, sexual, and other vulgar terms.
Court records show that Huguely received a 60-day suspended sentence, six months’ supervised probation, and a fine. He was also ordered to complete 50 hours of community service and 20 hours of substance abuse education, which he finished in July.
Alcohol-fueled behavior isn’t uncommon among the school’s male lacrosse players, as eight of the 41 members of the team have been charged with alcohol-related offenses, including underage alcohol possession, using a fake I.D., and driving under the influence.
Matt Bonesteel, Daniel de Vise, and Meg Smith of the Washington Post write that
Huguely and Love had been involved in a violent encounter before the one that resulted in her death. Two months prior, three University of North Carolina lacrosse players had to separate Huguely and Love at a party on the U-Va. Campus.
U-Va. President John T. Casteen III said that school officials were unaware of Huguely’s prior arrest or any violence on his part. But he said that the school would begin to screen students against public records before each semester.
When asked about the lacrosse team’s alcohol-related arrests at a news conference, U-Va. Athletic Director Craig Littlepage said, “I’m sure those incidents that have been brought into the pipeline were handled in a manner that was consistent with what our longstanding policies have been.”
In 1999, Coach Dom Starsia adopted a rule that allowed players to drink only one night a week, usually Saturdays. A player who broke the rule a single time would be suspended indefinitely. A second offense would result in dismissal from the team.
“Alcohol and lacrosse have gone hand-in-hand since my days at Brown [University] in the 1970s,” Starsia told The Washington Post at the time. “Whether it is post-game celebrations or just in general, there was something about the sport and alcohol, and Virginia was no different. I always thought alcohol was an issue here, and it is something we talked about before the season began.”