Hazing a cloud over Mac sports
By John Intini
Hazing hit the fan for the McMaster Marauders last week after two of the school's varsity teams received suspensions for improper initiation rituals.
According to Mary Keyes, associate VP-student affairs at McMaster, the school was forced to impose sanctions on both the men's volleyball and rugby teams last Wednesday. Rookie initiation activities which were in violation of both the university and athletic program's code of conduct were the reason.
"We found the actions to be in direct violation of the section in our codes regarding harassment and hazing," Keyes said. "We are expecting the sanctions to strengthen behaviour throughout the school."
Both teams were forced to forfeit weekend games, as well as perform future community service. The volleyball team was scheduled to open its season at home on Friday against Laurier, while the rugby team was scheduled to host Western Saturday afternoon.
Although Keyes would not divulge specific acts in either of the separate incidents, she did say the decision was the result of a week-long investigation. Keyes also said the actions were not perpetrated by a small group of athletes, but in both cases by the entire team.
Marauder rugby coach, Phil White, admitted to no knowledge of the improper activity prior to the decision and would only say that his team has to put the event behind them.
Rick Morocco, Ontario University Athletics executive director, said all suspensions within a school's program are viewed as internal problems and are left up to the discretion of the school involved.
"The only time the OUA would step in is in respect to a championship," Morocco said. "As a league we obviously do not condone hazing and view the actions by McMaster's administration in a favorable light."
Mustang rugby head coach, Gerry Slattery, who was surprised with the announcement, said it is unfortunate a few players can have such a detrimental effect on the rest of the league.
"I am very disappointed," he said. "I don't care what happens at McMaster but this was a game that we needed to play."
Slattery stressed the importance of responsibility and professional behaviour with all his players and said the actions of his athletes reflect not only on themselves, but also on the school and him as a coach.
Western's director of athletics, Darwin Semotiuk, said behaviour and misconduct is an issue all schools are forced to deal with at one time or another.
"The environment on the issue has changed greatly over the last few years," he said. "There seems to be an increased sensitivity on [improper conduct] which this decision makes obvious."