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Northwestern Says Men’s Swimming, Mascots Hazed Team Members

Northwestern University has punished its men’s swim team and students who perform as the school’s mascot for hazing, said a school spokesman, just days after the school suspended its women’s soccer team amid similar allegations.

The swim team’s hazing incident occurred in September and involved underage drinking, swimming in Lake Michigan when the beaches were closed and “additional inappropriate behavior,” said Mike Wolf, Northwestern’s assistant athletic director for media services.

On Monday, Northwestern announced it had suspended its women’s soccer team from all athletic activities after pictures of alleged hazing incidents ended up on the Internet.

All members of the men’s swim team were placed on disciplinary probation, required to perform a community service project and attend educational sessions on hazing after the Division of Student Affairs investigated and determined there had been a violation of Northwestern’s anti-hazing policy.

“Additional disciplinary action was taken against several members of the team, but federal law prohibits universities from releasing information about specific actions taken in regard to individual students,” Wolf said in a statement.

The athletic department also canceled a training trip to Hawaii and several members of the team were prohibited from swimming in one or more meets, Wolf said.

In October, students who perform as “Willie the Wildcat,” the school’s mascot, staged a fake kidnapping of new students who were candidates to fill the role, Wolf said.

Northwestern fired the students who had been performing as the Wildcat and put them on disciplinary probation after an investigation. Willie also did not appear at “several” football games, Wolf said.

“Northwestern will not tolerate hazing of any kind,” Wolf said. “When it discovers allegations of hazing or other violations of student conduct regulations, the University will respond quickly and take the appropriate actions.”

Wolf’s statement did not say when the university first discovered the incidents involving the swim team or the mascots. A message seeking further comment was left at his office Wednesday night.

Earlier this week, a Web site 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.

The women are suspended from organized athletics pending the outcome of Northwestern’s investigation, Wolf said. None of the players has been suspended from school.

“The University is continuing its investigation of the alleged incident involving the women’s soccer team and will take appropriate action if it is determined that the University’s anti-hazing policy was violated,” Wolf said in the statement.


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