Northwestern University suspended its women’s soccer team from all athletic activities Monday pending an investigation of alleged hazing involving players last year. A Web site on Monday displayed pictures allegedly of Northwestern soccer players clad only in T-shirts and underwear — some with blindfolds on and others with their hands tied behind their backs. Other women had words or pictures scrawled on their bodies and clothes, and it appeared some were drinking alcohol.
A statement from Northwestern’s athletic director, Mark Murphy, said the school learned of an alleged incident Monday, adding that school policy prohibits hazing.
The statement did not provide details about the alleged incident and did not refer to any Web site photographs.
“If the investigation shows that there has been a violation of Northwestern’s policies, appropriate sanctions will be imposed and the athletic department may take additional action as well. I have asked all athletic department staff, team coaches and members of the team to cooperate fully in the investigation,” the statement read.
The university’s Division of Student Affairs will conduct the investigation.
Currently, no players have been suspended, and “No punishments will be made until after the investigation is complete,” said athletics department spokesman Mike Wolf.
Monday’s suspension is the “the buzz on campus,” says the sports editor of Northwestern’s student newspaper, The Daily Northwestern.
“I was very shocked in light of the Duke lacrosse scandal,” says Zach Silka, referring to three Duke University lacrosse players who have been charged with sexually assaulting an exotic dancer at a team party. “Obviously, this is not the same degree as that. But drinking and other things happening is quite disturbing.”
Wolf says the high-profile Duke case didn’t force Northwestern to act faster than it otherwise would have, insisting the school was already prone to act swiftly when it came to any allegation of misconduct.
“The Duke [incident] just reinforced the sensitivity,” he says.
The Wildcats, whose 2006 season was scheduled to begin in August, finished with a 9-9-1 record last season. They were 2-7-1 in Big Ten play.
— Associated Press
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