After players were caught with illegal devices in their helmets, college baseball coach resigns.

The head baseball coach at Atlantic Cape Community College in New Jersey has resigned after two of his players were discovered with illegal communication devices hidden inside their batting helmets.

Rodney Velardi resigned last week after 13 years on the job, at the request of the college.

“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, the Chief Marketing Officer at Atlantic Cape, told the Cherry Hill Courier-Post earlier in the week.

The devices were discovered on April 22 during a game Atlantic Cape lost 11-4 to Rowan College Gloucester County.

Ethan Dodd, a freshman pitcher on Gloucester County, wondered if he’d been tipping pitches to his opponents in a game against Atlantic Cape the day before.

Atlantic Cape Community College
Umpires check the helmets of Atlantic Cape Community College with coach Rodney Velardi.
BFA Sports Media

“He had a feeling they were getting really good swings on pitches that he thought were good pitches,” Gloucester head coach Rob Valli told the outlet, saying that they initially “dismissed” this idea but that in “hindsight” Dodd was onto something.

But then, on April 22, Gloucester first baseman Felix Diaz told his coach that he could hear noises coming out of an Atlantic Cape player’s helmet.

“I didn’t believe it,” Valli recalled.

Umpires check the helmets of Atlantic Cape Community College players.
Umpires check the helmets of Atlantic Cape Community College players.
BFA Sports Media

“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.’”

The following inning, Valli asked the umpire to check the helmets of his opponents, and the umpire found communications devices in the helmets of the runners on first and second base.

Valli suspected, but did not have proof, that Velardi was using a livestream from a center field camera to ascertain the catcher’s signs on his iPad.

Velardi resigned after officials investigated the claims.
Velardi resigned after officials investigated the claims.
BFA Sports Media

After an investigation, Batchelor, the Atlantic Cape official, said that they couldn’t determine whether the team was using the devices during the game.

Nonetheless, the school concluded that Velardi — who Batchelor said had told her that the devices were used in practice but not games — had violated league rules.

“We found that coach Velardi was in direct violation of the [NJCAA Region 19 rules],” Batchelor said.

“Whether or not that was done intentionally, we couldn’t tell, but he was in violation.”

She added, “And of course, as an institution, we had no idea. I apologize on behalf of the college to Rowan College Gloucester County and anyone else that might’ve been affected.”

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