UMass Amherst Announces Medical Examiner Findings; Re-institutes Alcohol Ban at Tailgating

AMHERST, Mass. - University of Massachusetts Director of Public Safety John Luippold has announced information received from the state chief medical examiner regarding the death on Sept. 27 of junior Adam G. Prentice of Hyannis.

Luippold said the medical examiner relayed information that Prentice’s blood alcohol level was found to be elevated to a point considered above the legal limit for drunk driving in Massachusetts, which is .08 percent. Luippold said the medical examiner would not reveal the exact percentage of alcohol, due to long-standing policy of the medical examiner’s office not to release exact numbers. Luippold said the UMass police are continuing their investigation into circumstances surrounding Prentice’s death.

In light of the medical examiner’s information, Chancellor David K. Scott has announced an immediate ban on the consumption of alcohol at tailgating at football games. An alcohol ban had been in place at tailgating from 1988-92, but the ban had been lifted on a trial basis in Sept. 1992.

Last week, in the wake of complaints about alcohol-related behavior during Homecoming tailgating on Sept. 27, plus the alcohol-related deaths of college students this semester at Louisiana State University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Scott said UMass would begin a re-examination of its alcohol policies. He named Associate Chancellor Susan Pearson to head a task force examining policies and solutions for alcohol use and abuse.

Scott said he asked the task force to move quickly on their report, and to have additional recommendations about the campus’s alcohol policies to him within six weeks. He said he wants to encourage a campus-wide discussion about the risks and consequences of alcohol abuse, and to look at the campus’s extensive alcohol education policies to see what other actions could be taken.

He said: "The use and abuse of alcohol is a problem on campuses throughout the country, and ours is no exception. With the new information that alcohol could have played a part in Adam Prentice’s death, we must intensify our efforts to take all actions possible to ensure the safety and well-being our students, faculty, and staff."

At a meeting of the University’s Board of Trustees held today on the Amherst campus, Scott had said he would curtail tailgating at football games, and that the parking lot where tailgating is held would be cleared out 10 minutes before game time. However, in light of the information from the medical examiner, Scott said he would ban alcohol at tailgating altogether.