This time, the tree has gone TOO FAR.
The Associated PressFriday, August 25, 2006; 10:08 PM
STANFORD, Calif. — The Division I women’s basketball committee reprimanded and fined Stanford on Friday for the antics of its tree mascot during the NCAA tournament last March.
The mascot also was suspended for the Cardinal’s next appearance in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.
The tree refused to leave the court at halftime of Stanford’s victory over Florida State on March 20 in Denver, and the NCAA also cited “violation of multiple tournament policies regarding bands, cheerleaders and mascots” in its announcement, giving no more details. At the time, the tree reportedly was suspended for Stanford’s next game in the regional semifinals.
“The committee was very disappointed in this disturbing pattern of behavior and strongly believes that these acts compromised the integrity of the championship,” said Joni Comstock, the committee chair and the athletic director at American University.
The previous student to wear the tree costume was fired in February when she performed while drunk at Stanford’s men’s basketball game against California. The NCAA cited policy violations in previous years as a factor in the suspension.
Stanford tree mascot fired for drinking at basketball game
(02-16) 14:59 PST STANFORD UNIVERSITY — The Stanford University tree has been toppled for being drunk on the job.
The student wearing the costume of the legendary mascot was suspended from duty after UC Berkeley police observed her drinking from a flask during a Stanford-Cal basketball game last week, officials said today.
“She was taking drinks inside the tree,” said Kevin Klintworth, assistant athletic director at Cal. “The officers could see the flask through the costume.”
The defrocked tree, who plans to apply to become an astronaut and hopes one day to walk on the moon, said she could not believe the results of the breath test.
“I don’t think these things lie, but I felt fine and I was certainly able to do my job,” she said. “I’d like to put this whole thing behind me. The last thing I want to do is hurt the Stanford band.”
The band oversees the tree. Spokesman Sam Urmy said the incident began as a misunderstanding when Lashnits began prancing in the middle of the court, as she is allowed to do at Stanford, instead of confining her routines to under the basket, as Cal requires. That’s when officers began observing her more closely, Urmy said.
“She wasn’t doing anything offensive,” Urmy said. “She was just jumping and dancing. The tree’s movement is usually consistent with that of someone who’s had something to drink.”
The imbibing tree violated the terms of the band’s three-year alcohol ban, which Stanford administrators imposed after band members got drunk on a notorious bus ride home from a USC football game in Los Angeles in 2003.
Urmy said the band would be picking a new tree next month. He said the band had relieved the tree of duty on its own accord, before the university took action.
“We wanted to take care of this ourselves,” he said. “It’s not that big a deal.”