A beer-drinking competition was the hazing game that led to the suspension of Cornell University’s championship lacrosse team, the Big Red, for the remainder of the season.
A report on Cornell’s hazing website says the team held a “keg race,” in which freshman were challenged to chug a large amount of beer in a competition against other team members. The freshman were told to stand in a circle and were tied together with a string that passed through their belt loops. They were then forced to drink large amounts of beer until some of them vomited.
School officials said that new members of the men’s varsity team were hazed by upperclassmen. Freshman members were also expected to perform menial tasks and spend a large amount of time with the other members in both lacrosse-related and social situations planned by the upperclassmen.
“It’s a team-wide penalty for a team-wide incident,” John Carberry, a Cornell spokesman, told Bloomberg News. “It involved coerced alcohol consumption by underage freshmen.”
Bloomberg News reported that the suspension, which began on September 13th, includes the team’s fall season and all exhibition games. Cornell was scheduled to play at Cortland on September 28th, and at a fundraiser at the Landon School in the Capital Classic on October 13th. The team, however, is permitted to continue its fall practices and training.
Cornell officials have taken a zero-tolerance policy toward hazing after the death of a Cornell fraternity member in 2011. George Desdunes died after being bound with duct tape and forced to drink alcohol during a pledging game. Desdunes’s death prompted Cornell President David Skorton to vow to “end hazing as we know it,” according to Bloomberg News.
“Hazing practices are harmful and antithetical to our values as a university and our commitment to student athletes,” said Andy Noel, director of athletics at Cornell, in statement he released to the media. “They have no place in Cornell University athletics.”
Cornell lost to national champion Duke University in the NCAA semifinals last season, ending their year, 14-4.
Rob Pannell, who won last season’s Tewaaraton award, as player of the year, told Bloomberg News via telephone that he never saw any hazing. “In my five-plus years as a member of the Cornell lacrosse family, I can confidently say that no hazing took place. We were a program many teams on campus strived to be like.”
School officials said the team will participate in anti-hazing education programs and that those who were negatively affected by the hazing will be provided support.