All 5 University of Virginia Swimmers Suspended in 2014 Now Face 10-Count Hazing Lawsuit

In October of 2014, 5 members of the University of Virginia men’s swimming team were suspended from competition for what the school called at the time “violations of University of Virginia policy and athletics department rules.” Multiple sources would later confirm the suspensions to be on accusations of hazing.

All 5 men included in the 2014 suspension are now facing a serious, 10-count lawsuit including charges of assault, battery, false imprisonment, hazing, tortuous interference with a contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence and two counts of conspiracy to commit those acts.

Kyle Dudzinski, Luke Papendick, Charles Rommel, David Ingraham and Jacob Pearce are defendants in the lawsuit, which was just filed by 19-year old Anthony Marcantonio this past Monday, June 22nd.  The case also includes Marcantonio seeking punitive damages from the named upperclassmen.  Marcantonio’s testimony includes detailing out several hazing incidents instigated by the defendants, including one particular situation in August 2014.

In his official statements, Marcantonio details how, in the late night/early morning hours of August 27-28th  “he and other first-year members were instructed to participate in a series of hazing activities, some sexual in nature, under the threat of retaliation for non-compliance.”  Per Marcantonio, he and other first-year swimmers arrived at what is called the “Swim House” and were “blindfolded and subjected to false imprisonment, forced drinking (of beers, liquor, milk and prune juice), verbal abuse, forced sexual contact and a variety of intimidation tactics — including the threat of forced sodomy — at the hands of the five upperclassmen.” (Daily Progress)

The case further revealed that Marcantonio and others were also “told to chew live goldfish and grab one another’s genitalia” and were asked sexually explicit questions regarding themselves, as well as members of Virginia’s women’s swimming squad.  According to Marcantonio, the hazing continued into the following week, with the plaintiff receiving “threatening emails from a joint account created by the defendants under the name ‘Mr. Mean.” Messages of a “derogatory and degrading” nature ensued, which led to the first-year swimmers stealing items from “a retail store the university and another teammate” as part of a scavenger hunt, per the plaintiff’s statements.

Marcantonio claims he went directly to Virginia’s head men’s swimming coach, Augie Busch, as well as Virginia’s Dean of Students, Allen Groves on September 6th and 9th, respectively, to give testimony on the hazing and to seek their assistance.  According to Marcantonio, this act was not only met with threats by the upperclassmen in response, but the help offered by Busch came in the form of being told his “physical safety could not be guaranteed.” Marcantonio says Busch simply recommended that the athlete “protect himself by only swimming when other members of the team weren’t present.”

Marcantonio, having since transferred to Northwestern University to continue swimming, blames the defendants for destroying his University of Virginia swimming career, causing Marcantonio to leave the University and void his contract with the team.  Dudzinski and Papendick have since transferred to the University of Michigan, as just announced earlier this week.

More details, including any comments from Busch, Groves and the University of Virginia administration will be reported as soon as they are made available.

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wave rider
6 years ago

I’m not going to be able to elaborate without my comment being delete. All I have to say is that I am praying for the victims of this ridiculous law suit.

anonymous 1
Reply to  wave rider
6 years ago

People should learn from the Rolling Stone fabricated article that just because somebody claims something happened, that doesn’t make it so. There is another issue at play here. Hypothetical: If you were the parent of a swimmer with a different mindset of some sort, would you send them off to a D1 school as big as UVa? With no explanation of that problem to the coaches or to the team? Frankly, if my son had a problem, I would choose a smaller school with a gifted coach…not to a school that had ever made Playboy’s list of great party schools. In addition, if I decided to allow my son to swim at UVa, I’d be forthcoming to the team and… Read more »

Coach
Reply to  anonymous 1
6 years ago

Yeah – If your son isn’t cool with being pressured to shoplift, to grab other guys’ junk while getting force-fed liquor and other un-told (flat-out mean-spirited) indecencies not listed in the article – all under the threat of forced sodomy, then he isn’t ready for college. That’s all just good fun; and as just a freshman, he wants to be on a relay with me? I should be able to be invade his space and be an ogre to that bright-eyed kid fresh into college. Screw his sensibilities. He can submit to mine. He should have expected athletes at highly-rated academic institutions are animals. He knew what he was getting into.

anonymous 1
Reply to  Coach
6 years ago

You are taking everything written as the truth. What kind of crazy person would want that for their kid? If that crap was what happened there would be no freshman class left. YOU are able to tell the difference between a joke and reality. So am I. Another person may not be able to do so. That is why hazing is NOT good. But if you are dealing with a college environment, there are realities that you should have your kid ready to deal with…it’s not Mr. Rogers Neighborhood unfortunately. Nobody is grabbing each other’s parts. You wouldn’t have anyone wanting to be on a team like that. You are believing everything you read.

B
Reply to  anonymous 1
6 years ago

Really? I’m honestly shocked by posts such as this. Obviously you lack common decency. Should I tell my swimmer that they should expect to be forced to drink and possibly made sexually uncomfortable when they are a freshman and that it’s normal? Oh and if they have a problem with it then they are the one with something wrong because they’re not reading social cues? Please don’t reproduce. We honestly don’t need more people with your mentality running around.

C
Reply to  B
6 years ago

Regardless of who is right or wrong there’s no reason this should be in court. 5 kids who were indoctrinated into the hazing system their freshman are now continuing the traditions they were taught and are now potentially looking at starting their lives with major obstacles in their way and that isn’t fair at all. Hazing is a part of d1 sports. If you don’t like it go somewhere else. Why try to fight against a culture you don’t like that you don’t even have to be a part of? When has that ever worked favorably for anyone?

subterrific
Reply to  C
6 years ago

“Hazing is a part of d1 sports. If you don’t like it go somewhere else. Why try to fight against a culture you don’t like that you don’t even have to be a part of?”

This is literally the most ignorant thing I’ve ever had the misfortune of reading. YOU and your mentality are part of the problem. I swam D1 in the ACC and was not hazed – loved my 4 years at school.

TheTruth
Reply to  C
6 years ago

You are literally an idiot. If that is your view on how life works you are more bull headed than Ferdinand. Say you have an amazing athlete that could win gold in the Olympics. He’s not going to go to a random D3 school. Are you saying he should have to get hazed just because he wants to be good?… You are a Fool.

former swimmer in D1
Reply to  C
5 years ago

I swam for 4 years in a D1 program, as did many of my friends. Nothing even remotely close happened like this at ANY of the D1 schools that we all attended, so to say that “Hazing is a part of d1 sports” is just false.

Jepower
Reply to  wave rider
6 years ago

The existence of any type of hazing behavior is rightly condemned. Locker room banter is one thing but hazing is something else. Let’s let the investigation run its course and hopefully find out the truth of reality verses perception. This we do know however, young men do very, very stupid things and usually because there is a lack of oversight and control on the part of mature leaders within the programs at both the student and coaching levels.

And if a young person performed that type of hazing against fellow teammates then they should suffer full legal ramifications, be banned from NCAA and USA swimming for life, and be struck from the school’s academic records. All employees associated should… Read more »

Hulk Swim
6 years ago

As another new season approaches for college swimmers, I hope people are paying attention and understanding that there isn’t much upside to hazing.

Whatever happened here (I have no inside information and not much can be surmised from the details other than it sounds like the handful of other instances), it is crystal clear that maybe some “traditions” aren’t worth carrying on.

Hazing is dumb. It serves very little purpose. Find another way to “build” your team spirit.

Going forward, any team caught doing this kind of crap will have a REAL hard time drumming up any kind of sympathy from the swimming public, I would imagine. You’ve seen the consequences- programs being suspended and coaches being fired and… Read more »

Billabong
Reply to  Hulk Swim
6 years ago

I couldn’t agree more. It’s very easy to stop. The head coach just has to stand up at the beginning of the season and tell the team that any hazing tradition is over an non-compliance will result in scholarship forfeiture and further disciplinary action. Zero tolerance……over…..easy!

What’s wrong with the coaching staff? Are they mentally challenged?

Coach
Reply to  Hulk Swim
6 years ago

Well said.

B
Reply to  Hulk Swim
6 years ago

Couldn’t agree more!

KB
6 years ago

Times have changed. This is no longer acceptable. Teams need to figure this out. UVA is lucky they weren’t the next WKU.

Informed
6 years ago

I too don’t want a comment delete. But having gone through all these claims myself there. He may very well have a case!

Swimmer
6 years ago

This is ridiculous. This kid is going to ruin the lives of 5 people over this. If he ha just spoken up in the beginning and said he didn’t want to do it he wouldn’t have had to, even if there would have been backlash from the team. Not worth ruining the others lives.

...
Reply to  Swimmer
6 years ago

I’m pretty sure when people are under “threats of retaliation for non compliance” and are “forced” to do something it’s not as simple as just not doing what they say.

Michael
Reply to  Swimmer
6 years ago

I can’t even believe you just said that the victim is about to ruin the lives of the 5 defendants. They put themselves in this position. If they had considered the consequences, they wouldn’t be in this spot today. I’m pretty sure the victim never would’ve committed to UVa if he knew this type of hazing would’ve occurred. I’m glad he spoke up. Thumbs down to the head coach for handling the situation the way he did.

The victim’s life was ruined by this, but to me, he came out as a hero for speaking up, and is respected by me for doing so.

Jackson
Reply to  Michael
6 years ago

Based on your comments I can’t tell you were never a D1 swimmer, and don’t try to say you were. Everyone on this site who was will know you are lying.

Jackson
Reply to  Jackson
6 years ago

Can*

Swimmer
Reply to  Jackson
6 years ago

Current D1 swimmer… I just knew how to stick up for myself in anything I felt uncomfortable doing.

D1Swimmer
Reply to  Jackson
6 years ago

Successful D1 Swimmer on major college program that while hard on freshmen, never ever degraded them, and instead welcomed them into our culture by teaching them to do things the right away and encouraging their independence. Just because you bought into the crap wherever you went doesn’t mean most places know how to build teams the right way.

Marie Suez
Reply to  Michael
6 years ago

Marcantonio’s life does not seem “ruined”: he has continued swimming, posting best times throughout the winter, spring, and summer (and has been reported on swimswam); he has committed to Northwestern and gotten great press (not as strong a swim team, but great academics); he allegedly turned down Texas – so “ruined”? doesn’t seem like it- he certainly still swims and has done quite well. His academics must not have suffered as he was able to gain admittance to a top school. It was his right to not partake in the hazing and to leave the program; ; I am unclear as to why he has to continue with his quest to ruin the lives of the other young men.

Swim Guy
Reply to  Marie Suez
6 years ago

I believe the accusation was that it ruined his swim career “at the University of Virginia.” Leaving out part of a statement in order to support a certain narrative is, well, let’s just say you have a future as a producer at Fox News. I don’t know who’s right or wrong here, but maybe he’s continuing his “quest” because he believes he was wronged and he’s trying to prevent others from being treated the same way.

Marie Suez
Reply to  Swim Guy
6 years ago

Swim Guy: wasn’t leaving out info; summarized what he has stated. From Virginia Newspaper Article: “Unable to swim with the rest of the team and maintain his required swimming regimen, Marcantonio said in the suit that his swimming career was “destroyed by [the defendants],” causing him to leave UVa and void his contract with the team.”
[http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/local/ex-uva-swim-team-member-files-federal-suit-alleging-hazing/article_edf08178-1c6f-11e5-b698-8378d65ded33.html]

Blue
Reply to  Swimmer
6 years ago

Please tell me your kidding. Obviously they ruined their own futures. One would have to question the character of people who are comfortable hazing others. I am not of the mindset good kids haze. People who are comfortable demeaning others are the worst.

UVA Alum
Reply to  Swimmer
6 years ago

UVA has a history of tradition and honor they hold dear. You sign the “honor pledge” on every piece of work you turn in. That same honor is supposed to carry through to other facets of live on Grounds. Sad to see that in the 25 years since I graduated, things haven’t changed. This person is “ruining” 5 people’s lives – they and their parents did that all by themselves for believing they are above being honest and decent.

AWalker
Reply to  Swimmer
6 years ago

Are you serious???

Stan
6 years ago

Every year we hear about college students getting into trouble over hazing. It’s time that it stops. There has been enough in the media and public outcry against such behavior. I’m not overly sympathetic to those who continue to do it and then are caught. However these are people probably 18-21 years of age, not a demographic know for great decision making.

S
6 years ago

The fact of the matter is that the behavior was wrong. You can’t just point the finger at the young man who reported the hazing. Everyone handles stress differently, and as a brand new member to the team, it’s difficult to say “no” in the moment, especially when you know your fellow freshman are going through it with you. He did the right thing by reporting it because from what it sounds like, that was the only way the hazing was going to stop. Had he just told the seniors that he wasn’t comfortable, the behavior would still continue for everyone else. It is a shame that this tradition all falls down onto these five men, but I hope others… Read more »

Bumblebee
6 years ago

To have this lawsuit it absolutely embarrassing. This is what’s wrong with America you can sue people over dumb stuff like hazing. Every swimmer that went through hazing took it like a champ, except for this kid. You get stronger because of it simply put. It lasts for a week and THATS IT. it’s not on going.

Brad
Reply to  Bumblebee
6 years ago

^ That is the most ridiculous logic. Hazing does not make you stronger. Hazing is just a form of peer pressure and bullying; except, for some reason, the swimming community has put a different label on it and deemed it as acceptable. Yes, it’s unfortunate that these 5 students need to bear the brunt of something that’s going on within most American swim teams, but it’s attitudes like yours that pointless and belittling traditions like this continue. Grow up. Lawsuits like this are needed so this humiliating piece of crap changes.

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Retta Race

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