Hazing has cost the St. Olaf College baseball team the rest of its 2015 season.
A formal investigation by the Northfield college and its independent counsel found that team members violated St. Olaf’s hazing policy in actions that took place both on and off campus the weekend of Feb. 28. The college also said that team members attempted a cover-up.
St. Olaf released a statement Friday that described the events only in general terms, saying they involved “ridicule, harassment and public displays of servitude,” as well as underage students drinking alcohol.
School officials confirmed that the on-campus incident involved younger team members having to serve older team members during a meal in the school’s cafeteria. The nature of the off-campus hazing remained unclear.
Steve Blodgett, St. Olaf’s communications director, said most of the team members were involved in the hazing. He said college administrators learned what happened through student messages on the social media app Yik Yak, which allows users to remain anonymous.
The college said the team members were not honest about what happened.
“Violations were compounded by an orchestrated attempt to deceive college officials and the outside investigator and prevent them from learning what had happened,” the release said.
Any disciplinary actions for individual students will be handled internally, Blodgett said.
In an e-mail to the campus community, St. Olaf President David Anderson said that hazing in any form is a violation of the school’s core values.
“In the weeks and months ahead we will redouble our efforts to communicate the standards and values that should properly guide our co-curricular programs,” he wrote.
Conference games to go on
The canceled season comes on the eve of conference play for St. Olaf, a member of the 11-team Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC).
The MIAC said Friday it will proceed with 10 members this season, giving the remaining teams a bye on the dates they were scheduled to play St. Olaf.
It’s an unusual situation for the 3,100-student liberal arts college, as well as for the conference, which is made up of small NCAA Division III schools.
In 1999 St. Olaf canceled its men’s tennis season after drinking at an on-campus party sent a student to the hospital.
MIAC Executive Director Dan McKane said the conference likely won’t pursue discipline beyond what St. Olaf’s actions.
“I think they’ve taken a very strong action on this,” he said.
At this point, the team will be included on next year’s conference schedule, McKane said. But the loss of this season will likely be a major blow to players.
“I think it’s a very hard lesson to have to accept at this point,” McKane said. “I would imagine that if I put myself in their shoes, it would be a very devastating time right now.”