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Police Investigating Reports That Pace Coach From NJ Hit Freshman In Face With Bat

Pace University baseball
Pace University baseball Photo Credit: Daily Voice photo

Police are investigating an incident in which a Pace University baseball coach from North Jersey accidentally whacked a freshman player in the face with a bat during a locker room tirade after a loss, then allegedly failed to call an ambulance and instead stormed into his office.

Someone familiar with the incident involving Pace Baseball Coach Hank Manning alerted Mount Pleasant police on June 3, nearly two months later, Police Chief Paul Oliva told Daily Voice.

"We're looking into it," Oliva said.

Pace Athletic Director Mark Brown didn't immediately return a request from Daily Voice for comment on whether he felt that Manning -- who records show is a Park Ridge resident originally from Rutherford -- handled the situation appropriately. 

A university spokesperson told Daily Voice that the incident was an accident and that "the appropriate policies and procedures had been followed."​

Police reached out that day to Pace Security officials, who Oliva said sent over their investigation report.

A New York Post story published six days later cited several players saying that Manning was getting increasingly upset after a doubleheader against NYIT in the locker room when he accidentally hit a freshman player in the face -- leaving him with two broken bones and a gash under his eye.

Manning apparently grabbed the injured student's face and yelled "f*ck," before storming into his office as the assistant coaches cleaned him off and calmed down the rest of the team, sources familiar with the incident told Daily Voice.

One assistant coach ordered another player to drive the injured athlete to the hospital, The Post and Daily Voice sources said. While en route, Manning came out of this office and said the incident "showed his level of intensity."

Sources familiar with the incident said a formal apology was never issued to the team, although Manning did later apologize to the injured athlete.

Daily Voice’s email to Manning wasn't immediately returned.

One athlete -- an apparent witness who wanted to remain anonymous -- said the New York Post story made the coaches seem like "monsters." He also said "no student athletes were spoken to by security" during the investigation.

Vincent Scotto, of Tinton Falls -- whose son played on the Pace University baseball team and was a witness in the alleged locker room incident -- told Daily Voice he reached out to the managing director of a new investigative branch of the NCAA calling for an independent investigation of Manning and how the university handled the incident. 

An NCAA spokesperson said the organization "cannot comment on current, pending or potential investigations."

Scotto, a retired sergeant with they NYPD, called the incident "reckless," noting that it's constituted under the New York State Penal Code as reckless endangerment.

"Pace University has a distinguished history of providing positive student-athlete experiences and works hard to ensure a safe and welcoming environment for all athletic activities," Pace University spokesperson Marie Boster said. "Whenever something is reported, we investigate and take appropriate action."

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