BEVERLY — A celebratory graduation cigar will prevent two Beverly High lacrosse teammates from playing in the biggest game of the year Saturday.
Beverly High School Principal Sean Gallagher suspended the players for violating rules against using tobacco after a photograph in the Beverly Citizen showed them smoking cigars following graduation ceremonies on Sunday at Hurd Stadium.
Nick Donovan and Dylan Jutras will miss Saturday’s Division 2 North state tournament championship game against Marblehead and any subsequent games if the team advances.
John Donovan said his son is “devastated” and “in disbelief” over the suspension. He called the incident a “minor infraction with a maximum penalty, and I don’t think it’s right.”
“I don’t think it’s applied with the spirit of the rule in mind,” John Donovan said. “The spirit of the rule is, we don’t want any student to be involved with drugs and alcohol, which I agree with 100 percent. However, the application of the ruling was not in line with the spirit of the rule itself.”
John Donovan described the cigar-smoking as “a celebratory thing that transcends generations and cultures.”
“What’s the first thing people do when they have a baby? They hand out cigars,” he said. “Look at the statue of Red Auerbach (smoking a victory cigar). It symbolizes victory, it symbolizes accomplishment. It doesn’t symbolize anything negative as far as I’m concerned.”
Gallagher released a statement saying high school administrators were notified on Thursday of a possible violation of MIAA (Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association) policy by two student-athletes. The statement said administrators consulted with MIAA officials and confirmed that the incident did violate MIAA policy.
Gallagher declined comment, saying it is school and district policy not to comment on personnel or student issues.
A spokesman for the MIAA said it is the responsibility of the school principal in its member schools to enforce MIAA rules. Beverly High School is a member of the MIAA.