Virginia's Bad Boy Twins Won't Play In Final Four

(above) Virginia Senior lacrosse players Shamel & Rhamel Bratton ran afoul of team rules
From: Various blog and newspaper reports

Coming out of high school in 2007, twin brothers Rhamel & Shamel Bratton from Long Island were two of the best lacrosse players in the country. Featured in Sports Illustrated and other lacrosse publications they were portrayed as as future superstars.  When Virginia coach Dom Starsia landed the pair it was a recruiting coup of epic proportions.

Once at Virgina the pair established themselves as two of the most prolific players in college lacrosse, leading Virginia to four straight NCAA Tournament appearances.  Shamel was twice named first team All-American.

Today coach Starsia announced that senior midfielder Rhamel Bratton would not return to the team to play in Saturday’s NCAA tournament semifinal against the University of Denver at M&T Bank Stadium.

“Status unchanged,” Starsia said during an NCAA-organized conference call on Tuesday morning. “He will not be activated for this weekend’s game.”

Shamel was kicked off the Virginia men's lacrosse team for a violation of team policies in late April and Rhamel was suspended from the team indefinitely, but many thought he would return for the Final Four.

According to individuals with knowledge of the situation, the Brattons were suspended for the Stony Brook game in February because they violated the team’s alcohol policy, which is established by the players.

After the suspensions were announced, senior defenseman Bray Malphrus called the policy, which was newly crafted for the current season, "the strictest, most stringent rule since I've been here."

"And that's by design," he added.

After the May 2010 death of Virginia women’s lacrosse player Yeardley Love, it was revealed that eight Virginia men’s lacrosse players — including George Huguely, who was indicted April 18 on murder charges in connection with Love’s death — had been arrested for alcohol-related incidents (two were found not guilty).

According to individuals with knowledge of the situation, the Bratton twins made it well known they never intended to follow the alcohol policy and that they tried to get other players to vote to change the policy, but were unsuccessful.

The same sources also said the Brattons traveled to Stony Brook — which is about a 40-minute drive from their home town of Huntington Station, N.Y. — with their gear and offered to play despite their suspensions. After the Brattons’ older brother learned they would be held out of the game, he confronted Starsia, sources said.

"I want to wish Shamel the very best in his future endeavors," Virginia coach Dom Starsia said in a statement at the time. "He has made many contributions to the program. At the same time, there are standards of behavior within the framework of the team that we expect to be met by all of our student-athletes. Failure to do so on a consistent basis has resulted in the loss of the privilege of being a member of this team."

Shamel Bratton was voted off the team by teammates after a third violation of team rules, according to The Washington Post. Virginia players also reportedly voted to suspend his brother, Rhamel, indefinitely for a second violation of team rules.

The incident leading to the news involved the brothers traveling to Long Island to attend the funeral of the mother of Maryland lacrosse player Ryan Young.

The Brattons did not attend practice to attend the funeral, according to the Post. That missed practice was excused, and at least two other Long Island-native Virginia players were reportedly at the funeral, including starting goaltender Adam Ghitelman and his brother Jacob. The Brattons are from Huntington on Long Island.

However, the Ghitelmans returned for practice the following day, according to the Post. Shamel and Rhamel Bratton did not.

Shamel had twice been suspended for a game earlier this season for violating team rules. The senior was suspended first for the Cavaliers road game at Stony Brook Feb. 26 and again for a home game against Maryland April 2. After the Maryland game, Starsia termed Shamel Bratton's suspension "indefinite," but the senior midfielder returned for Virginia's next game against North Carolina.

Rhamel was also suspended for the Stony Brook game for violating team rules. Starsia did not address his indefinite suspension relating to the latest incident in a brief, three-paragraph statement.

Shamel Bratton ends his Virginia career with 129 points, the most among Cavaliers' midfielders all-time. Rhamel is tied for 14th on UVA's all-time midfielder goal leaderboard, with 59 goals.

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