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Hazing: Enough is enough

By Dave McHugh
D3sports.com

How many hazing incidents do we need to hear about on college campuses before people finally figure it out? Enough is enough.

The latest Division III instance comes from Wheaton. It was more than a hazing incident. It was an assault that left two individuals on a baseball field in the middle of the night and one of those victims badly injured after emotional and physical abuse, according to charging documents.

How in the world are we talking about cases where students are allegedly bound by duct tape, a pillow case put over their head, beaten, sodomy attempted, and abused in the spirit of team bonding? How does any “teammate” think this is okay to do to their own? Would they even consider doing this to a student that has nothing to do with the team? The answer to that last question I am sure would be no, so how does the moral or ethical line get crossed so easily? How have we gotten the point of this level of abuse being called “team bonding?”

I’ll be open with you: I was hazed quite a bit in my adolescence and even in college. I did not enjoy the embarrassing situations I, or others, were put in. I hated it. I dreaded it. Part of what fed the hate of it all was I had been bullied, harshly at times, since I was 11. Hazing felt like bullying, just under a different name.

I refused when I could and was demoralized when other teammates, even best of friends, refused to step up and put an end to it even when they knew I was uncomfortable. I found some individuals seemed to almost have a blood-lust when it came to hazing. They had a zeal for the entire thing. It was a chance to embarrass someone else, even worse a teammate, for one reason: their own personal enjoyment. Nothing about it was about team bonding.

Over the years laws have actually been written to end hazing, though the NCAA (and its members) have stopped short of making it illegal in the organization. Unfortunately, it seems hazing has actually gotten worse. For as much as I hated anything related to hazing when I was in college, I don’t remember anything worse than shaving one’s head, drinking far too much, wearing embarrassing outfits (including cross dressing), and other embarrassments. Physical abuse? Hitting, sodomizing, stripping one naked? Who thinks this is okay to do to another for any reason?

The Wheaton football case, while disgusting, is not rare. It is happening on college campuses, across all divisions and affiliations every year. It isn’t being reported and colleges seem to be brushing it under the carpet.

Hazing doesn’t need to exist to allow a team to bond. Listen to Northwestern football coach Pat Fitzgerald talk about alternatives and why hazing makes no sense. If it isn’t something a top-end Division I program is going to allow, how in the world can anyone overlook it in Division III?

What disturbs me even more than the abuse under the guise of hazing is, how were the suspects still on campus, let alone on the team? The college states they “took swift action to initiate a thorough investigation,” after the incident took place 18 months ago (and the victim was removed, by his father, from the campus).

At Wheaton, each student must sign an anti-hazing policy when they join a team or even an organization. By my count, these suspects broke five of the eight bullet points in the policy. They also seemed to ignore this section:

The College defines hazing as any action or activity that recklessly endangers the physical or mental health of a person, or that violates the dignity of another person.

When students sign that policy, they are agreeing to not engage in hazing and will ensure a hazing-free environment. However, the college also spells out the punishment(s):

“Wheaton College has a zero tolerance policy regarding hazing … there are severe penalties for all parties involved in hazing (including suspension/expulsion from the team or school and cancellation of the season).”

In a statement from Wheaton per the incident, they say the investigation resulted “in a range of corrective actions” and they are “unable to share details on these disciplinary measures” because of federal laws prohibiting them.

They claim they can’t discuss it (more on that in a moment), but according to the Chicago Tribune “several players” were “punished” with 50 hours of community service and an eight-page essay assignment about their behavior. If you look through participation reports and box scores, there may have been a missed game at the beginning of last season – perhaps a one-game suspension.

So, a student is beaten, abused in many ways, injured, and left half-naked in the middle of a random field and the school deems some community service, a paper, and a game is good enough? That is in no way a punishment that discourages or stops hazing nor abuse.

I’ll be blunt: In my opinion, the students should have been not only cut from the team, but also expelled from campus. Again, if this had not been classified a “hazing” incident and just considered a straight-up assault, do you really think they would still be on the team or on campus? Let’s ask it a different way: if these men weren’t members of a nationally ranked football team, would they still have been at Wheaton?

I understand, fully, that we live in a country and society that presumes innocence until a jury of peers says otherwise. However, that doesn’t mean the college has to wait for charges, a trial, and punishment to be handed out before they act. They have their own rules and code of conduct. Wheaton says the third-party investigation discovered conduct that was “entirely unacceptable and inconsistent with the values we share as human beings.” They also said it was unacceptable as “members of an academic community that espouses to live according to our Community Covenant.” Yet, Wheaton allowed the students to remain on campus and members of the football team.

The college says they are “profoundly saddened that any member of our community could be mistreated in any way.” Then get serious about stopping hazing. Send a message that makes sure students understand hazing will not be tolerated so that another member of the community will not be mistreated. Wheaton has already missed this particular opportunity to hold up their end of the anti-hazing policy.

Now as charges have been leveled and public opinion has swung, it was announced the players have been suspended. Good, but too late.

There is no room for this kind of behavior in our society. I don’t care if the suspects in question are All-Americans. In fact, for that very reason, these individuals should be held to an even higher standard. They literally represent the college by not only wearing a uniform that says “Wheaton” on the front, but also through awards and distinctions.

When it comes to hazing, a lot of coaches, admins, and colleges seem to turn a blind eye. As long as it doesn’t go too far, they don’t stop it despite state and federal laws and college policies prohibiting it. The more they look away, the worse the hazing gets and suddenly it’s physical, mental, sexual abuse along with emotional torture and more. It all could have been stopped by simply sticking to the policy. No hazing.

Hazing needs to end, period. No more excuses. No more allowances. End it now. There is absolutely no benefit to be embarrassed and humiliated, let alone injured, at the hand of those who are supposedly your teammates. But also end it because it is abuse and assault. There are many ways to bond as a team without the need to haze. Just take a look at this website from the Positive Coaching Alliance. Or visit the NCAA’s anti-hazing efforts.

Also, college administrations have to step dealing with these types of issues with kid gloves. Expulsion, suspensions, and even tough discipline of the entire team should be the first course of action – not the last and certainly not after the carpet has been pulled back and we see what is underneath.

Bucknell just recently punished their men’s and women’s swimming programs for something, in comparison to Wheaton, not nearly as severe. Notice a couple of things: Bucknell is coming down pretty hard on the programs for infractions they don’t believe represent the college or the campus in the correct way; the college is also telling people what happened and the decisions made without revealing the individuals involved publicly. They put a statement out on their website, had quotes from administrators, and gave details as to the punishments being put in place and the ramifications.

Wheaton has said nothing until after the charges were leveled on the five players. Nothing in the 18 months since the incident took place. If they acted like it didn’t happen, it didn’t happen, right?

Bravo to Bucknell and shame on Wheaton.

Dave McHugh is the host of Hoopsville on D3hoops.com and handles video production for D3sports.com sites.

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ATN Podcast 175: Defenses keep showing up

Offensive numbers catch the eye, whether it’s 98 points or this week’s 79 or 332 receiving yards and six touchdowns. But Keith has this thing about defense also being part of the game, and that’s hard to argue, as long as we still play 11 on a side. In this week’s D3football.com Around the Nation Podcast, Pat Coleman and Keith McMillan take a look at some of the places where defense shows up, expectedly or not so much.

Pat and Keith run through all the top news, the hidden highlights, the risers and sliders, the quick hits and quick misses and more from the week in Division III football. That, plus the game(s) which weren’t played, and what that means for the programs affected

The D3football.com Around the Nation Podcast is a regular conversation between Pat Coleman and Keith McMillan and guests covering the wide range of Division III football. During the season, it hits your feed weekly on Monday morning. This week, we thank Fanraise for sponsoring our podcast.

Hit play, or subscribe to get this podcast on your mobile device. 
Wheaton photo by Michael Hudson photography; Linfield  athletics photo
You can subscribe to the Around the Nation Podcast in iTunes. You can also get this and any of our future Around the Nation podcasts automatically by subscribing to this RSS feed: http://www.d3blogs.com/d3football/?feed=podcast
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Quick Hits: Name this rivalry

We all know what the big game is this week and you don’t need a poll on social media to tell you. But there are 110…109… make that 108 other games this week, at least as of Friday at midnight, and even though No. 1 is playing No. 6, some of those other games might be worth looking at. That’s what our crew does in Quick Hits.

Our regular crew is Keith McMillan, Ryan Tipps, Pat Coleman, Adam Turer and Frank Rossi. Our sixth spot goes to a guest each week, and this week’s is Kevin Niehus, former Thomas More quarterback.

— Pat Coleman; photo by Joe Fusco, d3photography.com

Other than UMHB-Linfield, what’s the game of the week?

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Keith’s take: No. 16 Illinois Wesleyan at No. 5 North Central. With the Titans’ hot start and the Carthage-Wheaton clash, we’ll get an idea how CCIW will shake out.
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Ryan’s take: No. 16 Illinois Wesleyan at No. 5 North Central. Curious how the Titans fare against their second tough foe of 2017.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Carthage at No. 4 Wheaton. While everyone is focused on a different CCIW game, I’m wondering how many points Carthage allows.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Thomas More at No. 18 Washington and Jefferson. The playoffs start now for the Saints.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 16 Illinois Wesleyan at No. 5 North Central. Some folks have doubts about the rankings of both — winner justifies ranking.

Kevin’s take: John Carroll at Baldwin Wallace. Just a hunch; Coach Hilvert will have his kids jacked up for their home opener.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 23 Concordia-Moorhead. Excluding the six teams in Question 1 (not brave enough to pick Carthage), Bethel could take advantage if Cobbers are still patting themselves on the back.
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Ryan’s take: No. 9 John Carroll. Baldwin Wallace has kept this matchup interesting in recent years.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: None. I don’t see it this week. Too many head-to-head games that don’t qualify for upset status.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 9 John Carroll. Baldwin Wallace makes a statement in Jim Hilvert’s home debut.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 18 Washington & Jefferson. vs. Thomas More — Saints will bounce back from loss; haven’t lost two straight in season since 2012.
Guest
Kevin’s take: No. 18 Washington & Jefferson. Saints leave the PAC following the season. There’s no love lost here. Both teams’ run defenses will be tested.

Who wins the UMHB-Linfield game and why?

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Keith’s take: UMHB. Neither wowed in opener, and both lost a lot from last season. Linfield might have lost more.
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Ryan’s take: UMHB. They’re back this year more loaded than the Wildcats are.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: UMHB. But for a game that’s picked unanimously, it will be competitive.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: UMHB. Championship pedigree separates two evenly matched teams.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: UMHB. In battle of new starting QBs, edge goes to the Cru.
Guest
Guest’s take: UMHB. Division III fans are the big winner with a great early-season matchup which probably determines home field in the semifinals.

Which team picks up a much-needed win after a winless start?

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Keith’s take: Augustana. I jumped the gun on St. Norbert; The Vikings have been competitive, and should win at Carroll in the third of three road games to open, and four against “C” teams.
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Ryan’s take: No. 24 Wesley. There’s no doubt the sting from two weeks ago lingers — now conference play starts.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Pacific. Oh, wait, never mind. There are no forfeits awarded for a program refusing to take the field. Thanks, Obama (‘s alma mater).
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: UW-Whitewater. The Warhawks take care of the football and avoid an 0-3 start.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Franklin vs. Defiance — rough schedule in first two games will make this game seem like a cakewalk.
Guest
Guest’s take: Gettysburg. Also Franklin. And Chicago.

Pick a winner in the NESCAC not named Amherst or Trinity.

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Keith’s take: Wesleyan. The game at Middlebury will be the NESCAC’s closest this week, and it’ll require stout defense vs. UNLV transfer QB Jared Lebowitz and the Panthers.
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Ryan’s take: Wesleyan. Though the matchup against Middlebury is pretty even.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Tufts. Although Hamilton is an improving program, I still like the Jumbos in a big way. No, that’s just the play on words talking. In a medium way.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Williams. Either Williams or Bowdoin will earn its first win since 2015. I’m picking the Ephs.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Williams vs. Bowdoin — Mark Raymond gets his first NESCAC head-coaching victory.
Guest
Guest’s take: Middlebury. My cousin Tim’s Panthers open at home.

Which two teams playing in Week 3 should have a traveling trophy for their game but don’t yet? What would you call it?

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Keith’s take: TMC and W&J. The PACto Defacto Title Game. Or Shenandoah-Hobart Yoder Bowl. The Loras-Dubuque Battle for Dubuque. Stop me anytime.
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Ryan’s take: Averett Cougars and Ferrum Panthers. Call it The Cat Scratcher.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Redlands and George Fox. Remember GFU’s surprise 2015 win? Calling this the Red-Fox Cup. This has nothing to do with red cups and everything to do with Sanford & Son, kids.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Randolph-Macon and Catholic. The Guru Bowl participants need a trophy featuring prominent alums Pat and Keith. (Ed. note, no they don’t!)
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Catholic vs. Randolph-Macon. The Around the Nation Trophy-cast.
Guest
Kevin’s take: Mount St. Joseph vs. Bluffton. The Bridge Bowl 2: there ARE bridges along I-75 in Ohio. They could use the original ceramic bowl, currently collecting dust in Crestview Hills.

We invite you to add your predictions in the comments below. Download the Around the Nation podcast on Mondays, where Pat and Keith review the Quick Hits that were prescient, and the Quick Misses that were terribly off base.