Baseball coach resigns after players found with illegal devices in helmets

Rodney Velardi, head baseball coach for Atlantic Cape Community College located in New Jersey, has resigned from his post after two of his players were caught with unauthorized communication devices in their batting helmets.

The resignation came last week after the college requested it. According to Laura Batchelor, Chief Marketing Officer at Atlantic Cape, “After the incident occurred, he was suspended while NJCAA Region 19 conducted a review, and at this point we asked for his resignation.”

The devices were discovered on April 22nd during a game in which Atlantic Cape lost 11-4 to Rowan College Gloucester County. Gloucester County’s freshman pitcher, Ethan Dodd, had suspicions that he was unknowingly tipping pitches to his opponents during the game the day before. Coach Rob Valli initially dismissed the idea, but in hindsight, Dodd was correct.

Felix Diaz, a first baseman for Gloucester County, then told Valli that he could hear noises coming from an Atlantic Cape player’s helmet. Valli, who didn’t believe it, waited until the next inning and asked the umpire to check the helmets of his opponents. The umpire found communication devices in the players’ helmets of both 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 discern the catcher’s signs on his iPad.

Batchelor stated that after the school conducted an investigation, they could not determine if the team had used the devices intenially during the game. However, the school concluded that Velardi had violated league rules.

She said, “We found that coach Velardi was in direct violation of the NJCAA Region 19 rules, whether or not that was done intentionally, we couldn’t tell. 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.”