SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The president of Humboldt State University on Tuesday suspended the school's men's soccer team for the coming academic year as a result of a new recruit hazing ritual involving most of the team's players.
Rollin Richmond made the announcement as the university released its findings from an investigation into the Aug. 4 incident at an off-campus house party where new players, most of them incoming freshmen, were ordered to perform humiliating acts and to consume large amounts of alcohol.
"Following careful investigation including interviews with team members, the university has concluded that an incident of hazing did occur, and that it placed the lives of two students in real jeopardy," Richmond said in a letter to the campus.
Along with prohibiting the 33-member soccer team from competing in any California Collegiate Athletic Conference or university-sanctioned games during the 2012-2013 season, Humboldt plans to discipline individual students, he said. Many Lumberjacks were involved in or witnessed the hazing, he said.
"I hope that the team discipline, along with individual disciplinary actions, send a clear message that this was unacceptable. Hazing is not tolerated at Humboldt State, not in athletics and not in any other area," Richmond said.
The school also is looking into whether Humboldt's women's soccer team engaged in hazing, he said.
Peg Blake, the university's vice president for student affairs, refused to provide details of the hazing behavior other than the forced consumption of alcohol by students who are not of legal drinking age.
Blake said they involved "multiple incidents of hazing designed to humiliate and denigrate the new players" and "forced acts of a varying degrading, demeaning manner."
None of the targeted players required medical attention, she said.
The university learned of the incident through a telephone call two days after the party, Blake said.
Athletic Director Dan Collen said that while the accusations were the first accounts of sports-related hazing during his 11 years at Humboldt State, player interviews revealed that "a culture and a tradition has been there."
"That is going to change," Collen said, noting that student athletes now will be required to sign mandatory hazing awareness policies as a condition of competing.
Students who are charged with violating the university's code of conduct face sanctions that range from written warnings to expulsion from the California State University system.
Although they will not be allowed to play this year, team members are not at risk of losing any athletic scholarships they may have received just because the soccer program has been put on probation, Collen said.
Humboldt State is located in far Northern California in the town of Arcata. The men's soccer team had been scheduled to play its first game on Aug. 30 against Dominican University.
The NCAA Division II team finished the 2011 season with a 4-12 record in its conference.