I’m a big fan of college baseball. When my team isn’t playing, I still watch college baseball on TV.
Atlantic Cape Community College, is a school I’ve never heard of before or seen on TV. A scandal broke out at the New Jersey college that involved a 13-year veteran head coach Rodney Velardi.
According to the Cherry Hill Courier-Post, after winning the first game of a doubleheader 11-6 on April 22, Rowan’s pitcher Ethan Dodd had asked his coaches whether they suspected him of tipping a pitch.
“He had a feeling they were getting really good swings on pitches that he thought were good pitches,” Rowan Roadrunners head coach Rob Valli told the Courier-Post. But, Valli added, at first “We kind of dismissed it. We didn’t think there was anything there. In hindsight? His senses were OK.”
Valli grew more suspicious of the cheating as the game progressed. Atlantic Cape players were batting hard and aggressively, but no one suspected anything until Rowan’s Felix Diaz heard voices coming from an Atlantic Cape player.
Valli was skeptical at first. “I didn’t believe it,” he said. “I just thought, nah. I didn’t believe it. I didn’t not believe him, but for that sophisticated of cheating, I just didn’t think they would do it. I didn’t think they would do it. For me, I wasn’t going to go right up there in the first inning. We had to confirm that’s what it was. So, second time up, those same guys got on, and [Diaz] was confirming with me the whole time. Once those guys got on, he’s saying I hear it. I hear it.”
In third inning, Valli requested that the umpire inspect the helmets of the players from Atlantic Cape. He found that Atlantic Cape’s players had headsets inside their helmets.
A junior college baseball manager in New Jersey has resigned after 13 seasons after illegal communications devices were found in the helmets of two players during a game pic.twitter.com/Oh4pPpDxOg
— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) May 12, 2023
Valli said that the umpire was “as surprised as I am”. “The umpire was surprised when I told him that they were wearing headsets. ”
“In 30 years, I’ve never asked an umpire to check a helmet, but I’m out here now, and I’m telling you now you’re going to find earpieces in these helmets, and he goes OK, let’s check,” he added.
It’s obvious that wearing earpieces in the helmets other than the catchers is against NCAA rules. Valli told his team to leave until the earpieces were removed from the players’ helmets and the centerfield camera was turned off.
Valli said, “They’ve got a camera right in the middle.” “They can see the inside, catcher, and signs.”
Atlantic Cape carried out an investigation but could not confirm that the devices were used during the game. The school did determine that the earpieces were in violation of the rules.
“We found that coach Velardi was in direct violation of the (NJCAA Region 19 rules),” Atlantic Cape Chief Marketing Officer Laura Batchelor said. “Whether or not that was done intentionally, we couldn’t tell, but he was in violation.”
Atlantic Cape first suspended Velardi, then fired him.
Batchelor said that “after the incident in the game, it had been decided to suspend him until the NJCAA Region 19 Review was completed and we requested his resignation at the time.” He continued, “And we as an institution were, of course unaware.” “I apologize to Rowan College Gloucester County and anyone else affected.”