FIVE MEMBERS of the University of Maryland Baltimore County women's lacrosse team have been suspended indefinitely for writing text messages that threatened freshmen on the squad, the school's athletic director said yesterday.

UMBC athletic director Tim Hall said the messages were written in GroupMe, which claims to be "a private chat room for your small group." Hall did not discuss specifics of the texts in an interview, but he said the school has taken steps to protect the team's freshmen. In addition to suspending the five players, the squad has been practicing recently without any contact drills.

"This type of behavior and language from any student is concerning and it doesn't reflect the community standards at UMBC as an institution," Hall said. "What we have done for anybody who has reached out is to assure and reassure that we have put the appropriate safety measures in place, because the welfare of our student-athletes is our highest priority."

Mackenzie Reese, Alyssa Semones, Amber Kovalick, Meghan Milani and Brittany Marquess have been suspended, with no timetable for their return.

"We wanted to be open-ended to say indefinitely, until we have a better and more comprehensive understanding of the situation," Hall said. "Situations of this nature need to be looked at very thoroughly and sometimes they can take some time. We won't sacrifice thoroughness for expediency."

The players already have missed two games: last Wednesday against Drexel and Saturday against Manhattan.

In addition, Retrievers co-coach Tony Giro was not on the sideline for the Drexel game.

"That was a decision I made administratively at that time," Hall said, though he would not elaborate.

In other college news:

* Alabama associate head coach John Brannen will lead the team through the NIT after the firing of Anthony Grant.

Bill Grier was fired as coach at San Diego after the Toreros finished 15-16 in his eighth season. Grier had an overall record of 117-144.

* A coroner said a women's basketball player found in her Pennsylvania dorm room in January died from a blood cell disorder, not from inhaling chewing gum, as police first believed. The cause of death for California University of Pennsylvania student Shanice Clark was announced by the Washington County coroner. The 21-year-old Clark, from Toronto, was found unresponsive Jan. 18 and couldn't be revived.

Sport Stops

* Oklahoma City Thunder forward

Serge Ibaka

will be out indefinitely with lingering soreness in his right knee.

* The New York Rangers will be without veteran forward Martin St. Louis for 10 to 14 days due to a right knee ailment. St. Louis was injured late in New York's 2-1 home victory over Florida on Sunday night.

* NASCAR driver Jamie Dick was diagnosed with diabetes after reporting dizziness and fatigue at Phoenix International Raceway. Jeffrey Earnhardt will replace Dick in the No. 55 Chevrolet this weekend at California.

* FIFA postponed Pakistan's World Cup qualifier against Yemen that was scheduled for today in Lahore because of "safety and security reasons." On Sunday, 15 people were killed when suicide bombers targeted two churches in a Christian neighborhood of the eastern Pakistan city.