Executive Managing Editor
Both the Men’s and Women’s Swim teams at the University of California, Santa Barbara have received sanctions following a hazing incident, the university announced on Sep. 23. The men will be suspended from two tournaments and the women from one during the 2016-17 season, though the sanctions will not apply to freshmen or first-year transfers on either team.
UCSB Director of Athletics John McCutcheon imposed the sanctions following an investigation by the Office of Judicial Affairs. In a statement, UCSB Sports Information Director Bill Mahoney described the hazing as “excessive alcohol consumption.”
According to Mahoney’s statement, the department may further discipline individual students involved in the incident as the judiciary process continues. “Both the University and the Department of Athletics take this issue extremely seriously and we are committed to maintaining a safe environment for our entire campus community,” Mahoney said in the statement.
The department will continue to review the incident and may take further measures per the conclusion of the judiciary process. So far, the men’s swim team has been suspended from two tournaments during the 2016-17 season, while the women’s swim team has been suspended from one. While freshmen and first-year transfers will not face suspension, all athletes across both teams will be required to undergo hazing awareness education programs.
In addition, according to Mahoney’s statement, the university has contacted Big West Conference officials. Mahoney said that the university will work “cooperatively” with the conference regarding National Collegiate Athletic Association eligibility concerns.
Both swim teams typically begin play in early October and continue through March, when the NCAA Division I Swim and Diving Championships take place. The schedule for the upcoming 2016-17 season has not yet been made available over the Internet.
At press time, the Office of Judicial Affairs did not respond for comment. Ten players from the Men’s and Women’s Swim Teams were contacted for comment. As of press time, none had responded.
According to UCSB student-athlete handbook, the university practices a “zero-tolerance” policy when it comes to hazing. The handbook defines hazing as “any method of initiation… which causes, or is likely to cause, bodily danger, physical harm, or personal degradation or disgrace resulting in physical or mental harm to any student or other person.”
This is not the first time the university has dealt with a report of hazing involving an athletics team. In 2013, the UCSB Waterski and Wakeboard Club Team received a lengthy suspension following a report of hazing, according to KEYT. The water sports club was initially suspended for a year after the university learned of a 2011 incident involving alcohol, which ended in a student being airlifted to a nearby hospital. The team was ultimately suspended for a full four years, after the university concluded that the incident in question had involved hazing.
In 2006, the UCSB women’s lacrosse team faced discipline following a hazing incident that had taken place two years previously. The university investigated the incident after learning of photographs available on the internet. The images depicted members of the team engaging in activities that the university determined were in violation of anti-hazing policies, according to a report by the UC Santa Barbara Current.
The university placed the women’s lacrosse team on social probation for the 2006-07 school year, according to the report. In addition, the report said, the team was ordered to complete 30 hours of community service.