Published September 23, 2013
Cornell University has suspended its entire men’s lacrosse program for the fall after an alcohol-related hazing of freshmen recruits, which involved a beer-drinking competition, the school says.
Bloomberg News reports the suspension began Sept. 13 and wipes out the nationally competitive squad’s fall schedule, including exhibition games.
The team’s members will reportedly be permitted to practice and train during the censure, but will have to undergo anti-hazing education programs and workshops.
“It’s a team-wide penalty for a team-wide incident,” John Carberry, a Cornell spokesman, told Bloomberg News via telephone. “It involved coerced alcohol consumption by underage freshmen.”
In a report posted on Cornell’s hazing website, college officials said the team held a party that involved a “keg race,” where freshmen were forced to stand in a circle and drink large amounts of beer. The freshmen were tied together with string that passed through their belt loops, and some of the members vomited.
The report also noted freshmen were also required to perform menial tasks and duties for upperclassmen.
“They were expected to spend a large amount of time with the other members in both lacrosse-related and social situations planned by upperclass members of the team,” the report said.
The school said members "negatively affected by the hazing incidents will be provided support."
The Ithaca, N.Y.-based team’s official, intercollegiate schedule reportedly did not begin until February 2012, a year in which the “Big Red” – a 26-time Ivy League champion and winner of three national championships – made it to the NCAA semifinals, before falling to eventual national champ Duke.
Campus officials have reportedly taken a zero-tolerance policy to hazing, or particularly since the 2011 death of student George Desdunes, a Cornell fraternity member who perished after being bound with duct tape and forced to drink alcohol.
Bloomberg News reports that Desdunes’ death prompted University President David Skorton to vow to, “end hazing as we know it.”
According to Bloomberg, since Desdunes’ death, Cornell has suspended at least four fraternities for hazing. The university encourages students to anonymously report hazing and maintains a website that details incidents on campus.
“Hazing practices are harmful and antithetical to our values as a university and our commitment to student athletes,” Andy Noel, Cornell’s athletic director, said in a statement.
“They have no place in Cornell University athletics. I am particularly concerned with coercive traditions that abuse the power differential between new students and upperclassmen.”
One former lacrosse member told Bloomberg News he never witnessed any hazing during his time with the team.
“I’m having trouble believing that any hazing took place,” said Rob Pannell, who spent 2008-2013 at Cornell. “In my five-plus years as a member of the Cornell lacrosse family, I can confidently say that no hazing took place. We’re a program many teams on campus strive to be like.”