UMaine hockey player appeals to school president to end ‘overly harsh’ 1½-year suspension

Posted Aug. 15, 2014, at 7:24 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 16, 2014, at 6:47 a.m.
Ryan Lomberg
Courtesy of University of Maine
Ryan Lomberg
The University of Maine forward Ryan Lomberg (center) battles for the puck with American International's Carson Grolla (left) and David Norris during the first period of a game on Dec. 13, 2013, in Orono.
Gabor Degre | BDN
The University of Maine forward Ryan Lomberg (center) battles for the puck with American International's Carson Grolla (left) and David Norris during the first period of a game on Dec. 13, 2013, in Orono. Buy Photo

BANGOR, Maine — Suspended forward Ryan Lomberg wants to return to the University of Maine to continue his hockey career and earn a degree.

Lomberg indicated his desire to return to Orono in a letter sent by his lawyer, Peter J. Cyr, to Megan Sanders, who is President Susan Hunter’s designee to hear Lomberg’s appeal of a 1½-year suspension from the institution.

Lomberg, 19, of Richmond Hill, Ontario, was convicted Monday of disorderly conduct.

In a plea agreement with the Penobscot County District Attorney’s Office, he was convicted of a misdemeanor and paid a $1,000 fine in connection with an off-campus altercation that took place April 26.

An assault charge was dismissed.

Lomberg was suspended by UMaine after the altercation, in which he was accused of knocking a man to the floor and kicking him in the face and midsection before being pulled off the victim. The man suffered a broken nose and concussion before he went to the Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor on his own, according to Orono police.

Lomberg was suspended by a code of conduct officer and unsuccessfully appealed the suspension to the code of conduct committee.

Based on university guidelines, he has one more appeal option, which is to the president.

Cyr wrote he would like to arrange a time for Lomberg to speak with Sanders regarding the events that led to the suspension.

Dr. Robert Dana, the dean of students at UMaine, said under university guidelines there won’t be a face-to-face meeting but students can submit documents and written statements to the president’s designee to plead their case.

In the letter, Cyr writes, “The criminal punishment Ryan received is significant, yet it is completely overshadowed by the overly harsh one and a half year suspension imposed by the [code of conduct] committee.

“Ryan does not contest the conditions imposed by the committee as he has already started educating himself and fulfilling the committee’s recommendations. It is the length of the suspension that goes above and beyond what is appropriate given the circumstances and the events this April,” he wrote.

The code of conduct committee’s recommendations in any case involving a suspended student can include enrollment in assistance programs, such as counseling, anger management or alcohol rehabilitation.

The letter didn’t indicate whether Lomberg is enrolled in a program or receiving counseling.

The letter continues by saying Lomberg has taken responsibility for his actions but maintains he was acting in self-defense.

“The entire incident started when some of Ryan’s friends and fellow teammates became involved in a dispute over a dog. Ryan came to the aid of a female classmate, who was being mistreated by another individual at an off-campus party,” Cyr writes.

“At one point, Ryan was threatened and provoked by another individual at the party when they said, ‘I know the kid who pulled a knife on you.’

“As you may or may not be aware, Ryan has asked David Fiacco to investigate the incident that occurred earlier in the school year when an individual pulled a knife on Ryan and threatened him. There are two witnesses who state that the other male who provoked Ryan threw the first punch that hit Ryan in the face,” Cyr continued.

Fiacco is the director of the school’s Office of Community Standards, Rights and Responsibilities.

The letter then stated Lomberg’s desire to return to UMaine and play for coach Red Gendron.

“Ryan has learned a tremendous amount from Coach Gendron, he respects Coach Gendron and holds him in the highest regard,” the letter stated.

“In the course of these proceedings, Coach Gendron has put forth on several occasions an appropriate punishment and sanction for Ryan. Coach Gendron has proposed, among other things, that Ryan be suspended from playing hockey games for the first half of the 2014-15 season. He has further proposed taking away Ryan’s scholarship money,” Cyr wrote.

Cyr added in the letter that Lomberg wants to complete his bachelor’s degree from UMaine, where he finished his sophomore year with a grade point average of over 3.00.

In any appeal, Dana said the president can uphold the sanctions, reduce the sanctions or, if new information becomes available, send the appeal back to the code of conduct committee for another review of the case with the new information being taken into consideration.

He said they always try to rule on the appeal as quickly as possible.

“Typically, it’s within two weeks. We don’t want to leave the student hanging,” Dana said. “But sometimes there are circumstances that take longer, like if the student is [a long way] away from the campus.”

Dana added there is no established timetable.

If Lomberg cannot return to UMaine, he appears to be leaving for the Youngstown Phantoms of the United States Hockey League.

Since the USHL is an amateur league, he could play college hockey again beginning in 2015-16.

Lomberg had 11 goals and seven assists in 34 games as a sophomore at Maine last season after posting seven and seven in 32 games as a freshman.

BDN writer Judy Harrison contributed to this report.

 

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