Western Kentucky suspends swim team five years for hazing

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 14, 2015 4:34 PM

(Reuters) - Western Kentucky University on Tuesday suspended its swimming and diving program for five years after an investigation found widespread abuses involving hazing and alcohol abuse.

"The pervasive culture of misconduct in the swimming and diving program is intolerable," President Gary Ransdell said in a statement. "A five-year suspension is both necessary and prudent."

Student athletes will be allowed to transfer immediately to another program or stay and retain their scholarships through their senior year, the Bowling Green, Kentucky, university said. Coaching positions are being eliminated.

Investigations by Bowling Green police and the university's Title IX office after a complaint by a former team member who has left the school revealed flagrant violations of the student code of conduct and sexual harassment policies, Ransdell said in a letter to faculty and staff on Tuesday.

The violations included hazing and underage alcohol consumption and abuse, some of which involved potential recruits on campus visits, Ransdell said in the letter.

"Additionally, the investigations found that coaches were aware of this pervasive culture and failed to sufficiently eliminate inappropriate behavior within these teams," he said.

The more than 50 members and coaches of the swimming and diving teams were notified on Tuesday morning.

"While many in the program have represented WKU with distinction, the overall findings of a consistent pattern of disappointing conduct is troubling and not acceptable at WKU," athletic director Todd Stewart said.

Bowling Green police have turned over the report to Warren County prosecutors and are pursuing charges against one man for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, police spokesman Ronnie Ward said.

(Reporting by Steve Bittenbender; Writing by David Bailey; Editing by Peter Cooney)