Thursday, October 20

McGill U., in Canada, cancels entire football season over hazing incident


Canada's oldest university football team will forfeit the rest of its season following an extensive investigation into a player's hazing complaint. Officials at McGill University said on Tuesday that both the team and individual students would also be disciplined for acting inappropriately during training camp, in August.

"It's reinforcement of our zero tolerance for hazing," said McGill's acting provost, Anthony C. Masi. "The same thing will happen to any team who engages in hazing in the future. ... No excuses. No exceptions."

That tough line goes beyond sports, he added, saying that if hazing is part of any activity at the Montreal university, the activity will be suspended.

The football player who complained, an 18-year-old rookie, left both the team and the university after asserting that he and other recruits had suffered humiliating and degrading hazing. The student, who remains unidentified, said they had been taken to a darkened squash court to meet "Dr. Broom," and had been asked to remove their shorts. The student said he had refused to do so. He was then forced, he said, to his hands and knees, was gagged with a dog's chew toy, and was touched anally with the end of a broomstick.

A report on the university's investigation, completed on Monday, found that "the event did involve nudity, degrading positions and behaviors, gagging, touching in inappropriate manners with a broomstick, as well as verbal and physical intimidation of rookies by a large portion of the team." The report said that no actual sodomy had taken place.

The head coach initially suspended one player indefinitely and five others for one game. But the university's report found the entire team responsible and ordered its members to perform at least two years of community service. The university said it was pursuing disciplinary actions against individuals as well, but was not seeking expulsions.

The father of the rookie who complained, himself a former professional player and McGill alumnus, said the family had decided to make no statement at this time. The player intends to resume his studies at the University of Toronto in January.

Canadian Interuniversity Sport, the organization that oversees varsity sports in Canada, said it supported the university's actions against the team, which was formed in 1872. The team's withdrawal, however, does create some logistical problems for the league -- McGill's game against top-ranked Laval University, scheduled for Saturday, was supposed to have been televised.