A college baseball coach was forced to retire after the players on his team were caught with illegal communications devices in their helmets.
Atlantic Cape Community College baseball coach Rodney Velardi had spent 13 years with the college, according to the New York Post.
The incident was investigated by the National Junior College Athletic Association, an Atlantic Cape spokeswoman told the Courier-Post, a New Jersey newspaper.
“After the situation with the game, he was suspended pending the outcome of the NJCAA Region 19 review, and at that time, we had asked for him to resign,” Laura Batchelor, chief marketing officer at Atlantic Cape said, according to Courier-Post.
Rowan College Gloucester County head coach Rob Valli said suspicions were raised in an April 21 game, when one of his pitchers said that Atlantic Cape players “were getting really good swings on pitches that he thought were good pitches.”
The next day, April 22, first baseman Felix Diaz told Valli noises were coming out of the helmet of an Atlantic Cape player.
“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 he was confirming with me the whole time. Once those guys got on, he’s saying, ‘I hear it. I hear it.’”
Valli asked the umpire to check out his hunch for suspected cheating.
Cheating in JUCO baseball is a WILD move lmao https://t.co/xSXNGAosaM
— Dylan Deibel (@DylanDeibel) May 12, 2023
The umpire was “as surprised as I was,” Valli told the Courier-Post.
“The reaction was I went out and said they have headsets in their helmets, and he seemed surprised. … He’s like, ‘how do you know?’ I explained our first baseman has been hearing this now and we just confirmed it the second time these guys got on base,” he said.
“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 said.
The umpire found the devices, which were removed.
The game was being played at Atlantic County Community College’s home field. Valli said he thought a livestream camera from center field might have been the source of whatever information was being relayed.
“They had a center-field camera, which I wasn’t watching the stream, but the center-field camera, they can see in, they can see the catcher, they can see the signs,” Valli said.
“Velardi, in his dugout, had an iPad in his hands, so my assumption, and I don’t know if it’s true or not, my assumption was he was using the iPad to watch the livestream, the center-field camera, and looking into the catcher’s signs. Whether he did or not, who could prove or say, but he had an iPad in the dugout and you’re not allowed to do that,” he said.
BFA, the company that was conducting the livestream, shut it down after the complaint, but managing partner Doug Stasuk said the livestream had a 45-second delay, and doubted it was used to anyone’s advantage.
Batchelor said the college could not confirm the devices were used, but said that Atlantic Cape believed the coach violated the rules.
“Whether or not that was done intentionally, we couldn’t tell, but he was in violation,” she said.
Batchelor said there was a follow-up meeting on ethics issues, according to CBS.
“We told them at the time coach Velardi was no longer with the program and they actually gave praise to our athletic director for being responsive with the investigation,” she said.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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