The North Middlesex girls' basketball team headed out west to Amherst for its Western Mass. Finals game with Longmeadow and lost.

Unfortunately for the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the host of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association girls' and boys' basketball Semifinals and Finals, the games hosted inside the Curry Hicks Cage were not the only newsworthy events happening around campus.

UMass Amherst students participated in a day-long St. Patrick's Day drinking binge known as the "Blarney Blowout," on the same day as the Tournament Finals.

The "Blarney Blowout" happens every year in the sleepy college town of Amherst.

So the MIAA chose to hold this high-school tournament at a college campus known for excessive drinking on a day when the college students are imbibing in the streets.

What kind of message does that send to the high school athletes, parents and younger children, who attend these tournament games? Not a very good one, if you ask me.

Wise choice, MIAA.

As I entered the town and went down one of the streets leading up to campus, I witnessed an Amherst Police Department paddy wagon and a handful of officers detain drunken revelers in front of a fraternity house.

As I drove a little further down Triangle Street on the outskirts of campus, I saw a few students congregating at the bus stop with open cans of beer for everyone to see.


If it is something that happens every year, even though it is not a campus-sanctioned event, shouldn't the MIAA have had some knowledge of it when it selected UMass as its host location?

At first glance, I thought it was just your average day of drinking at UMass Amherst and chalked it up as nothing more than a few college kids who got an early start on a Saturday afternoon.

It was not until after the game as I meandered through the beautiful Amherst downtown to the Starbucks -- not my first choice for coffee -- to hop on the wifi and file my game story, that I realized that this was more than your typical night of drinking in a college town.

A young woman, who was severely intoxicated, lie in the middle of a crosswalk alone.

Luckily, a group of her friends came by and scooped her up.

An inebriated college-aged male, who could barely keep his balance, stands with a beautiful boxer near a trash can outside of Antonio's Pizzeria -- a staple in the college town -- chats with an older concerned citizen, as his dog licks empty pizza boxes that were mounted on the overflowing trashcan.

Let's just say, I had all I could do not to take the dog from the drunk college kid.

But as I filed my story from a cramped table for two, up against a bookcase inside the Starbucks, I overheard one of the students on the phone next to me say to her three friends "a riot has broken out on campus, we should stay here."

My girlfriend pulled up a quick search for "UMass Riot" and sure enough, it was the lead story on Yahoo and America Online.

Campus police and Amherst Police in full riot gear, broke up a group of 4,000 students, who became unruly when asked to leave.

The students allegedly tossed ice balls, beer cans and bottles at the officers.

Eighty individuals were charged in the "Blarney Blowout" aftermath.

Officers responded with pepper spray. It was a scene that collectively spread across the news in a matter of minutes.

Springfield television station, WGGB, had released a story on March 3 warning residents and students alike of the upcoming "Blarney Blowout."

It is a known fact that college kids party, but hosting an event at UMass on an annual St. Patty's Day drinking weekend does not reflect positively on the MIAA.

Think about the high school kids who drove down to the game unsupervised. What are the chances that some of those high school students also partook in the street party? How about those high school seniors who were accepted into UMass Amherst? What lessons did they learn?

Now they have to try and convince their parents UMass is a fine academic institution -- which it is -- but, its students like to party ... There's no doubt about that.