Thirty members of the Boston College men’s and women’s swimming and diving program have retained legal counsel after both teams were suspended indefinitely for hazing on Wednesday.
Attorneys Andrew Miltenberg and Tara Davis criticized BC for walking back its initial statement that the university determined hazing had occurred. Later Wednesday, the Office of the Dean of Students said that no determinations had been made about whether any policy violations took place. On Thursday, BC revised its statement to say that the program’s suspension was based on “credible reports of hazing.”
“The statement issued by the Boston College Athletics Department on September 20, 2023 falsely suggested that allegations of hazing by the Boston College Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving team have been substantiated,” Miltenberg and Davis said in a statement to SwimSwam. “To be clear, the university’s conduct office has just only begun and certainly has not completed an investigation into such claims, nor have any findings been made.
“The issuance of this statement prematurely, and without having gathered all of the relevant facts, was not only negligent but also extremely harmful and damaging to the members of the Swimming and Diving program,” they added. “It is distressing that the College has been so irresponsible in its public messaging. We are hopeful that the College will take all necessary and appropriate steps to rectify the substantial and ongoing damage caused to the student athletes.”
On Thursday, details of the alleged hazing emerged in a letter from an administrator in the Office of the Dean of Students that was obtained by The Heights, BC’s independent student newspaper. The letter suggested that freshmen swimmers were pressured to binge drink and consume their own vomit, potentially violating five Student Code of Conduct policies as well as Massachusetts state law.
Lawyers for the 30 members of the BC swimming and diving program would not go so far as to deny those allegations, only addressing the university’s public response to the situation.
“Based on the information known at this time, Athletics has determined a program suspension is warranted, pending a full investigation by the University,” BC’s revised statement said. “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.”
Sources told SwimSwam earlier on Thursday that team members were forced to drink until they vomited, and then wear that vomit tied in a bag around their necks. Those same sources added that not all members of the team participated in the activities.
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’re the only Power Five swimming program that doesn’t offer scholarships. They broke three school and 15 pool records at their rivalry meet against Boston University in January and were starting to gain momentum on the recruiting trail under the new coaching staff.
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.
Brinkman leads a BC coaching staff that includes assistant coach Brian Keane, assistant coach Alexander Santana, and diving coach Jack Lewis. The Eagles were slated to start their season Saturday with a Maroon vs. Gold intrasquad meet before officially beginning the regular season against George Washington on Oct. 7.