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Louisville soccer dismisses 3 players, suspends 3 others for holding party

Three Louisville soccer players have been dismissed from the program and three others have been suspended after the school found they held a party last week that resulted in 29 positive tests for the coronavirus and required four other programs to temporarily suspend workouts.

The school is not releasing the names of the athletes involved, but all are members of Louisville's men's soccer team.

"I'm extremely disappointed in these young men and particularly with the three that have been dismissed," Cardinals soccer coach John Michael Hayden said in a statement. "They have demonstrated with their actions now and previously that they do not echo the culture of this program. Our student-athletes are held to a high standard of conduct as representatives of our program and university."

Louisville said the three dismissed players had previously violated team rules. Athletic director Vince Tyra said the party represented a clear violation of the school's code of conduct and he fully supported the decision to discipline all six.

"Ignoring the safety protocols issued by federal, state and local officials, as well as the athletic department, is unacceptable and dangerous," Tyra said in a statement. "Their history of actions are not in alignment with the values of this university and athletics department."

Redshirt junior Cameron Wheeler told ESPN that he was one of the players who was dismissed and he has lost his scholarship. He said in a statement that he and five roommates who are also on the soccer team "didn't plan a 'party' or large gathering" but that "several uninvited student-athletes" followed an invited individual to their house, and "things escalated quickly."

Said Wheeler: "Athletes from multiple teams continued to come in, not invited. ... This made it more difficult to get the situation under control. We tried shutting it down and getting people to leave, but it took over an hour."

He said he told the team's trainer that he was in contact with other student-athletes and that he told the athletic department what happened.

"We were unable to convince anyone that we hadn't intended for this to happen," Wheeler said.

On Monday, Louisville paused workouts for men's and women's soccer, field hockey and volleyball after 29 student-athletes tested positive for the coronavirus. The Louisville men's basketball team also paused workouts earlier this summer.

Louisville's decision to dismiss the soccer players is believed to be the first high-profile public discipline of student-athletes related to the spread of the coronavirus on a college campus. While most programs have instituted strict guidelines on social distancing and mask wearing, student-athletes also have been instructed not to participate in activities that could expose them to the virus.

At North Carolina, where the football program shut down workouts earlier this summer following an outbreak of COVID-19, coach Mack Brown said he explicitly did not want to know the sources of the spread.

"One thing we're all learning is you've got to trust each other," Brown said last month. "The information I've gotten back, they feel our players have been really honest. We've asked them to. ... We're cautious about asking too many questions to the contact tracing people. We never ask names because we want them to feel comfortable and be honest. If somebody got outside the bubble and made a poor decision, I don't want to know who that is, because if I go yell at them, then they're less likely -- or somebody else is less likely -- to be honest with the tracing people."