In a stunning move, Boston College indefinitely suspended its men’s and women’s swimming and diving program on Wednesday after administrators determined that hazing had occurred.
However, a letter from the Office of the Dean of Students later that day said that BC “has in no way made any determination about whether or not any policy violations have occurred” and a revised statement from school on Thursday said the university had only received “credible reports of hazing.”
“The University does not — and will not — tolerate hazing in any form,” BC said in its initial statement. “During the suspension, all Swimming and Diving student-athletes will continue to have access to academic and medical resources provided to all Boston College student-athletes.
“Based on the information known at this time, Athletics has determined a program suspension is warranted, pending a full investigation by the University,” the school said in an updated statement on Thursday. “Consistent with University policy, the matter will be investigated by the Office of the Dean of Students and adjudicated fairly and impartially through the student conduct process. Once the investigation and adjudication process is complete, Athletics will reassess the status of the teams.”
Both the BC men and women’s teams placed 12th out of 12 teams at the 2023 ACC Championships in their first season under former Notre Dame assistant Joe Brinkman. Still, it was a relatively successful season for the Eagles considering they don’t offer swimming scholarships as they broke three school and 15 pool records at their rivalry meet against Boston University in January.
It’s rare for colleges to self-suspend entire programs for hazing, but it has happened before. In 2015, Western Kentucky suspended its men’s and women’s swimming and diving program for five years in the wake of a hazing scandal that resulted in the termination of the coaching staff. Ultimately, the school cut the program.
The Eagles were slated to start their season Saturday with a Maroon vs. Gold intrasquad meet before officially beginning the regular ant George Washington on Oct. 7.
BC isn’t offering additional details at the moment, but the part of the university’s hazing policy is available below:
Hazing refers to any activity expected of someone joining a group (or to maintain full status in a group) that humiliates, degrades, or risks emotional and/or physical harm, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate. Hazing is a complex social problem that is shaped by power dynamics operating in a group and/or organization and within a particular cultural context.
Hazing activities are generally considered to be physically abusive, hazardous, and/or sexually violating. The specific behaviors or activities within these categories vary widely among participants, groups, and settings. While alcohol use is common in many types of hazing, other examples of typical hazing practices include personal servitude; sleep deprivation and restrictions on personal hygiene; yelling, swearing, and insulting new members/rookies; being forced to wear embarrassing or humiliating attire in public; consumption of vile substances or smearing of such on one’s skin; brandings; physical beatings; binge drinking and drinking games; sexual simulation and sexual assault.
For such activities to be considered hazing, forced or mandated participation is not required. If a new member feels that he or she will not be considered a fully participating member of the group or feels that they would be ostracized for not participating in particular behaviors (for example, alcohol use), then such implied coercion would be considered hazing.
Back in 2016, former BC head coach Tom Groden told the school’s student newspaper, The Heights, that he thought the program might be cut because of the new recreation center that doesn’t have either a separate diving well or a 3-meter diving board. He resigned later that year midseason after more than four decades in Chestnut Hill.
“I have been told swimming is going to be cut by people who think they know what they’re talking about,” Groden said. “I haven’t been told that by (former athletic director Brad) Bates, and he’s probably the only person who could effectively tell me. … Do I believe it? I don’t know. Been asked this question for years.”