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Five Nixed From Wheaties’ Box

February 23, 1998

NAGANO, Japan (AP) _ Wheaties may be the ``breakfast of champions,″ but five women on the Olympic champion hockey team won’t get to see their faces on the box.

That’s because five of the gold medalists are still in college, and under NCAA rules they cannot accept commercial sponsorships if they want to continue their college hockey careers.

Fifteen other members of the U.S. women’s hockey team will be on the box, but those excluded by the NCAA rules include Tara Mounsey, Sara DeCosta, A.J. Mleczko, Angela Ruggiero and Jenny Schmidgall.

``It’s a rule, and we were aware of it coming into this. But it’s a bummer. It would be kind of a cool thing,″ Mounsey told her hometown newspaper, the Concord Monitor, as she watched 15 of her teammates step on stage at the Metropolitan Hotel for the Wheaties box announcement.

Even though the members of the team won’t necessarily make money from being on the Wheaties box, NCAA rules prohibit college athletes from allowing their photos or names to be used for financial gain by someone else.

``It’s hard on these five players,″ U.S. coach Ben Smith said. ``This truly has been a team in every sense of the word and it’s hard for them not to be with their teammates at this moment. But it gives you a tip on their age and their future.″

Ruggiero, the youngest member of the team and a senior in high school, could get a full college scholarship through hockey, depending on which school she chooses. Schmidgall also has four years ahead of her at the University of Minnesota.

Mounsey and DeCosta both have three more years of college, Mounsey at Brown and DeCosta at Providence, while Mleczko has her senior year left at Harvard.

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