Princeton Cancels Remainder of Men’s 2016-2017 Swim Season

Princeton University has announced the cancellation of the remainder of its 2016-2017 men’s swimming and diving season. That means the Tigers won’t swim in their final two regular season meets (versus Navy on January 7 and versus Harvard and Yale on February 5), nor at the Ivy League or NCAA Championships.

The decision, announced by Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan, was the result of a “vulgar and offensive” email chain on the team’s official university-sponsored listserv.

Princeton announced a week ago that they would suspend their season while further action was being considered. Since that announcement, more information has come out about the nature of the offending emails, which included crude comments about the Princeton women’s swim team and their incoming recruits. The emails were described as “misogynistic and racist in nature” in the Princeton release.
“We make clear to all of our student-athletes that they represent Princeton University at all times, on and off the playing surface and in and out of season, and we expect appropriate, respectful conduct from them at all times,” Samaan said. “The behavior that we have learned about is simply unacceptable. It is antithetical to the values of our athletic program and of the University, and will not be tolerated.

“After reviewing the situation with Coach Orr, we have decided to suspend the season, and all associated team activities, effective immediately,” Samaan added. “In the coming days we will make a determination about the status of the team’s remaining schedule and we also will work collaboratively to determine additional actions aimed at education and positive culture building for the team.”

The entire men’s team roster has been stripped from the official team website (live version here), as have all rosters back through the 2013-2014 season. Among the swimmers whose collegiate careers will be ended by the decision are seniors En-wei Hu-Van Wright, Julian Mackrel – seniors on the team who both earned Honorable Mention All-America honors as part of relays at last year’s  NCAA Championships. Princeton placed 37th overall at that meet with 8 points.

The team was also due to defend two-consecutive Ivy League Championships.

“The athletics department and the University are committed to providing an inclusive environment free from harassment and intimidation and characterized by mutual respect and concern for the well-being of others,” Samaan said. “In recent years we have worked closely with Princeton’s SHARE office (Sexual Harassment/Assault Advising Resources and Education) to provide educational and training programs for our students and our staff.

“One program developed by SHARE in conjunction with my office is SCORRE (Strength in Coaching on Relationships, Respect and Equality),” she added. “This program uses the bond between coaches and players to foster interactive dialogue and develop skills that promote healthy interpersonal relationships. Its modules cover such topics as respect, integrity, language, consent, and bystander intervention. We have also developed a program that will be introduced next month that focuses on the responsible and productive use of social media. We will continue to focus on such programs as well as redouble our ongoing efforts to achieve our primary goal, which is education through athletics.”

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W3T

Kudos to Coach Orr and the Princeton Athletics department for sticking to their principles, and proving that, at least in some places, actions have consequences, and that the actions of any member of a team impact all the members of that team. Hopefully this will be the start of better things for the Princeton men’s team in the years to come.

newswim

I hope so for the sake of the program but suspect this is not over. This is one of several bad marks in the past year and one has to wonder if there will be other ramifications. I do believe things will get better for the Princeton men but wouldn’t be surprised to see some other changes soon.

Swimfan

Coach Orr is a no show. This is a president and AD cya for their failure to supervise for 10 years. Ask them for proof regarding any of the 37 individuals on the current roster.

Swimfan

Cya of administrators over individual civil liberties. Lawsuits coming

Bigly

What were the individual civil liberties that were violated? I know the student conduct code items that were violated.

SwimFan

Civil liberties as in minimal due process. Looks like team was suspended before holiday break. Then season cancelled one week later. No interviews before or after. Did all swimmers create and use it.

Bigly

The “due process” is only related to Princeton student conduct code due process. Princeton’s Honor Code, albeit more for academics, sets the tone for expectations of student conduct and includes specific language about a requirement for reporting violations —- basically ratting on other students — for the collective good of the student body. Every student there receives this orientation early on. So basically, unless one could prove that one never opened the listserve messages that one received by being on it, which is extremely doubtful (I’m sure the university’s IT department could easily determine that and probably did), one enabled the violations and therefore were guilty under Princeton rules. One “used it” if one remained on it, was aware of… Read more »

Swimfan

show me the specific language requiring all students to report an email between two students speaking unflattering about another.

Does it define precisely what qualifies.

What about reporting underage drinking-whole school rats each other out

Swimfan

so only rats and neutered males need apply

Bossanova

Wow SWIMFAN you seem really upset the way you’re over here rules lawyering about specific language. perhaps I would even say TRIGGERED. I’m sorry America isn’t stuck in the 1950’s anymore where a racist joke in the break room is construed as “just the way things are.”

SwimFan

I believe that while a “team” has no rights, “individuals” on that “team” do. Princeton is not transparent about why it did what it did to each “individual” and is opaque as to whether it followed its own rules and procedures. Dismissing a “team” for “culture and environment” is Princeton’s prerogative but not sufficient to defend defaming every “individual” on the “team”, particularly if they did no wrong.

I am not going to argue whether canceling the season is an overreaction and, frankly, that is Princeton’s sole right. But from their media release they disparage every individual on the team.

Bigly

Princeton has no obligation to be transparent, and on top of that there is FERPA, which prevents the transparency you want.

SwimFan

Transparent with the student, not the public.

College Swim Mom

Well, someone on the team who received the objectionable emails must have reported it. Wouldn’t that be adhering to the honor code? I guess that person is getting punished along with those who wrote the emails.

Frank the Tank

So a freshman swimmer who has been at the school for less than four months is required to report his teammates for obscene emails (not ones advocating violence or breaking the law, mind you, but sexist and similarly inappropriate ones…)? What a sad Orwellian environment.

Bigly

If he signed on to the SCORRE program, which I understand was required, yes.

SwimFan

What a conundrum. Cancel your own season.

marklewis

Can you see yourself being a whistleblower or informer on your teammates? And then the whole season is cancelled?

One of my college swimming teammates was dealing pot out of his dorm room (it was a long time ago).
It was a crime, but I didn’t go to the police. Not worth it.

Swimmom

There is no constitutional right to due process in a private organization. There’s a lot of big words being announced on this thread but not a lot of understanding of what they actually mean.

Bigly

This is as much a rebuke to Orr for failure to supervise. He is very close to retirement age. I doubt a Princeton coach in a much earlier stage of his career would survive this.

completelyconquered

Questionable. Is Coach Orr supposed to know about the messages being sent through the listserve? When he did find out about it, he took the appropriate steps to discipline and now we are here. I fail to see how you can say this is a failure because of him.

Bigly

See Art Briles. He’s filed suit saying he didn’t know what was going on at Baylor. Conventional wisdom is that coaches are expected to know the culture of the their team. Whether that’s fair or not, isn’t the point. His supervisors, including the Trustees (which have a woman chair, 14 women, and many people of color) rebuked him. If they had full confidence in him and felt like that he lived up to the standards they expected (including the public relations standards), they would have kept it at a suspension.

Frank the Tank

If Coach Orr is not held responsible for the culture of the team, then is it fair to punish the entire team for misconduct by fewer team members than the entire team (assuming that is the case)?

ShawnT

Why? Rob should be fighting for the team to still be competing, not acquiescing to the AD for a few foul mouthed kids.

Swimfan

None of which are on the 2016-2917 team. Ask for evidence. Cya by Eusgruber

Swimfan

Orr is a coward in this

Coach tom

What BS!

Markster

Well it’s certainly being covered up well. Still no real info on the contents of the messages.

Swimfan

Because you have to back 5 years

Swimfan

Ask for emails from the team being penalized for problems 10 years ago. There are none. No ethics in the AD and Eusgruber

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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