Hazing incident lands baseball team four-game suspension


(File photo by Megan Cherniak).

Wilfrid Laurier University suspended its entire men’s baseball team Thursday for four games after it was discovered the team was participating in hazing.

The team will forfeit its next four games — two against the Western Mustangs and two against the Waterloo Warriors —, which were all scheduled for this weekend. Following the four-game suspension, the team could be banned for the remainder of the 2012 season.

The team will be required to make a presentation to athletic director Peter Baxter, interuniversity sport coordinator Wally Gabler and vice president of student affairs David McMurray Sunday evening. Following that, the university will decide whether the team will be reinstated, or extend the suspension for the remainder of their season.

“[We gave them] a determination of sanction and then opportunity for the team to really dig deep and learn about the detriments of hazing,” Baxter said.

The incident, — the details of which which has not been revealed — was brought to the attention of the Athletics Department Tuesday night when a report from Residence Life reached Gabler. After further investigation, Laurier Athletics decided to suspend the team.

According the Baxter, the incident violates the Student Athlete Code of Conduct regarding hazing, which outlines actions and activities that are prohibited including, but not limited to, forcing, pressure, humiliation or obscure requirements that an individual would not participate in otherwise.

The code was instated in 2000 after an event with the swim team occurred.

“At a professional level, it’s kind of acceptable,” Baxter said. “There’s kind of an acceptance in which this is a way that you welcome young people.”

Baxter mentioned the incident involved alcohol consumption.

“What we’re saying in a zero-tolerance policy is that you cannot welcome a member by dehumanizing them,” he said. “By degrading them, by humiliating them by involving in alcohol, which nobody has control over once you have that equation in.”

The baseball team signed the hazing policy on Aug. 27 with their coach, Scott Ballantyne.

At the presentation Sunday, the team will be required to outline why they were wrong, what their values as a student athlete are and how they are going eradicate their mistake.

“You can put heavy sanctions on them, or you can have them be educated in the process,” Baxter said.

Players from the baseball team have refrained from commenting and have been quiet from social media. However, Thursday afternoon, a Twitter account registered to rookie catcher Ryan Belz sent a tweet supporting his team saying that he’s “still proud to be a Laurier Golden Hawk and represent our school on the baseball field.”

He later tweeted to Global News reporter Lama Nicholas that, “hazing is part of varsity sport. It will always exist. I wouldn’t call Laurier events hazing. It was a celebration.”

The tweets have since then been deleted.

An anonymous Laurier baseball player told Global News that the team had a party over the weekend and alcohol was involved, however, he said there was no hazing incident.

Baxter said that there have been no other reports of hazing with any of the other varsity teams, but that he’s sure the events still occur.

“I’m not naïve enough that there have been things that have probably happened that have gone unreported,” he said. “When you defy the policy, you deny the right to play.”

The Hawks were 4-4 on their season with twelve games left. With a forfeit being received for the next four, it will be nearly impossible for the team to make the playoffs.

**Editor’s note: This story has been updated from its original version.




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