Hazing News

University of Virginia expels Pi Kappa Alpha

Link to Pike expulsion at UVA

Hazing News

Wyoming High School hazing

No jail time in “terrible” and disturbing Wyomiong High School JV baseball attack. Victim was autistic.


Hazing News

Clyde Savannah High school Hazing

Three athletes pleaded guilty after a felony charge is dropped by court. Link

Hazing News

Hank Nuwer at Wall Street Journal


Web Journalists and Their Sites Are Put to the Test on Ethics


David Sweet

The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition

Sept. 22, 1999 11:59 pm ET

Hank Nuwer has crafted articles about playing first base for the old Denver Bears. He’s penned a biography of Jesse Owens. But in nearly 20 years as a sportswriter, he’s never been handed an assignment like the one suggested by an incipient sports site.

Wishing to hire Mr. Nuwer as a free-lancer, discussed money and expectations. But then came a surprising twist: to boost his income, Mr. Nuwer could try to procure signed jerseys from athletes such as Ken Griffey Jr. while interviewing them. If the site were able to sell the merchandise, the free-lancer would nab a 50% cut.

“I said it was unethical, and I got an e-mail back [from a producer] saying, ‘Some think it is, some think it isn’t,’ ” says Mr. Nuwer, who declined’s offer. “I’ll put myself in the group of ‘Some think it is.’ ”

(Several attempts to reach the site producer Mr. Nuwer dealt with were unsuccessful.)

Because of the Internet’s explosion, sports sites have been saddled with ethical quandaries (though none as gruesome as whether kidneys should be auctioned online, a decision

Inc. faced recently). The new technology has given birth to issues — should one be able to click to buy Joe DiMaggio memorabilia within an article about his death, for instance. Others are simply old matters wrapped in new packaging: Can a site cover a league or a player fairly when it has inked a side deal with them?

“These issues of ethics weren’t invented with the Web, but they’ve become that much stickier,” says Jerry Lanson, chairman of the department of journalism at Emerson College in Boston. “It’s so easy to put up a Web site. You’re almost returning to the press at the beginning of American history, where almost anyone could start a newspaper. But with that you get falsehoods.”

Aside from producing,

Co.’s ESPN Internet Ventures runs the National Football League and National Basketball Association sites. SportsLine USA Inc., who is owned in part by CBS, operates Major League Baseball’s venue and has signed “superstar” athletes, from golfer Tiger Woods to basketball giant Shaquille O’Neal, to exclusive contracts.

“I think it’s a big problem,” says Emerson’s Mr. Lanson. “Are you not going to hype the NBA? Are you not going to give them prominent play? It’s a real conflict, that’s not appearance of conflict.”

Mark Mariani, president of marketing and sales for SportsLine USA, says SportsLine hasn’t treated its superstar athletes with kid gloves.

“We were the first site to report John Daly lost his contract with Callaway,” says Mr. Mariani, referring to the troubled golfer. “We have on numerous occasions run articles that were not popular with the business side.”

Even sites which haven’t arranged special deals are beholden to developments which took place before their birth. CNN/SI Interactive, for instance, is owned by Time Warner Inc., which runs the Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Hawks and the new National Hockey League expansion team, the Atlanta Thrashers.

Steve Robinson, managing editor of CNN/SI and its namesake network, says the family ties have never affected the site’s coverage.

“We’re two brand names. If we don’t maintain our integrity, then we’re kind of out of business,” he says.

The Catfish Case

When Jim “Catfish” Hunter died of Lou Gehrig’s disease recently, most big venues quickly dedicated their top news hole to numerous stories of the Hall of Famer. (Even The Wall Street Journal’s front page noted the death.) But two sites, and SportsLine, stuck with NFL previews.

Considering their television partners paid billions of dollars for NFL broadcast rights — and considering these sites are promoted handsomely during league telecasts — could this have influenced their story selection? SportsLine’s Mr. Mariani answers an emphatic no.

“That newsroom has 100% editorial control,” Mr. Mariani says. “Catfish Hunter is a sad story, but it’s pretty hard to upset what 80-90% of this country eats, sleeps and drinks, which is NFL football.” (Attempts to set up an interview with an representative were unsuccessful.)

Some baseball team sites benefit from partnerships with local newspapers, who also cover the squad they’re working with. The Los Angeles Times helped the hometown Dodgers create a 40th-anniversary section on their site. Aside from helping to produce the Royals venue, the Kansas City Star also sends beat writers to report on the team.

Chad Rader, the Internet/publications coordinator for the Royals, says the pact is essentially an advertising trade — is promoted in the Star every Monday, while the newspaper obtains signage at the ballpark. Although he admits the Star’s coverage of the bumbling team has been “nice all year,” he doesn’t believe the alliance affects their reporting.

“Not at all,” he says. “The Kansas City Star’s Internet department operates separately from their news side.”

Unlike their print counterparts, sports sites can sell merchandise instantaneously from within articles. Mark Newman, who has toiled in both the new and old media, sees it as an additional revenue source.

“When John Elway retires, I think it’s justifiable to say, ‘Here’s where you go to get memorabilia,’ ” says Mr. Newman, former general manager of the Sporting News Online. “In this case more than print, the consumer drives the decision-making. If the user wants that capability, you say, ‘Why not?’ You’ve got to make revenue some way.”

CNN/SI’s Mr. Robinson, whose site has not embraced e-commerce with the fervor of others, is not as gung-ho.

“That’s a direction a lot of us are going to go in. But we have to be very careful about it,” he says.

With the Internet’s speed, issues of accuracy come into play — as well as matters of confessing to mistakes. Mr. Newman remembers debating whether the Sporting News Online should create a corrections page, especially considering the magazine itself printed retractions.


“Sites are not being accountable for mistakes; they’re reposting stories,” says Mr. Newman (the Sporting News Online, along with other major sites, do not post corrections).

Further, none of the major sports sites have formulated a code of ethics.

“We’ve been in journalism a long time, and we know what’s wrong and right,” says Mr. Robinson.

Mr. Lanson, who has taught journalism ethics courses at Syracuse University, New York University and San Francisco State University, thinks young journalists need guidance in this area.

“The last time I taught ethics, to my surprise I had a number of students who had no problem taking freebies, making money on the side,” he says. “A lot of reporters who go into an online newsroom need some foundation in why journalists need to be squeaky clean.”

Mr. Nuwer — who has donated letters received from athletes to Buffalo State College — believes he has been cleaner than clean. When it comes to asking for an autograph on the job, he’d rather face sportswriter-loathing Bobby Knight in a dark alley.

“To the best of my knowledge, as a sportswriter, I’ve never asked a player for an autograph,” he notes. “And you know, not one of ’em has asked me for one, either.”

New Sports Site Rescinds Policy After Questions Arise Over Ethics


David Sweet

The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition

Sept. 24, 1999 11:55 am ET


Faced with a policy that was considered by some in journalism to be ethically questionable, announced Thursday it had rescinded the provision roughly a month before the site’s launch.

As reported in The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition, allowed writers a chance to earn money by procuring sports memorabilia from players. If a writer obtained a signed jersey from baseball star Ken Griffey Jr., say, during an interview, he could post it for sale on the site and receive a 50% cut of any revenue. Writers could also sell on the venue any memorabilia they had previously acquired.

“It’s a policy that never should have been in the contract,” says Scott Brown, chief operating officer of the Montclair, N.J., operation. “This is a mistake on our part. We are taking full responsibility.”

Mr. Brown, who believes the original policy was requested by one of the writers, says the person who put together the contract was no longer with He says all writers who have joined the site have been informed of the policy change.

Everyone from sports site editors to journalism professors blasted the original policy.

“The last thing a good journalist wants to do is ask someone for an autograph,” says Mark Newman, former general manager of the Sporting News Online. “It’s the most disgusting thing one can do as a journalist.”

Mr. Brown says only one writer, Hank Nuwer, complained about the provision. But Mr. Nuwer — who turned down’s offer to become a free-lancer when he found out about the memorabilia policy — was vociferous in his opposition.

“I thought athletes already have a low opinion of sportswriters, and it would only go lower,” says Mr. Nuwer, a veteran sportswriter., which looks to give users an insider’s perspective into the world of sports, is prepared to launch in October.



Manslaughter Sought in Florida Hazing Case


Arian Campo-Flores

March 4, 2013 9:59 pm ET


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Florida prosecutors charged 12 former members of the Florida A&M University marching band with manslaughter Monday, in connection with a 2011 hazing death that focused attention on violent rituals on college campuses.

Ten of the defendants had previously been charged with felony hazing, a third-degree felony that carries a maximum sentence of five years, in the death of 26-year-old drum major Robert Champion. Prosecutors charged two additional people with manslaughter, a second-degree felony that carries a maximum sentence of 15 years.

It isn’t clear what prompted Jeffrey Ashton, the state attorney for Orange and Osceola counties, to upgrade the charges. Calls to his office weren’t returned.

Mr. Champion’s family, who complained that felony hazing charges were too lenient, praised the prosecutors’ decision. “We applaud the courage and leadership demonstrated by Mr. Ashton for amending these charges to be commensurate with the crimes committed against Robert Champion,” said Christopher Chestnut, an attorney for the family. “Finally, we are on a path to justice.”

William Hancock, an attorney for defendant Rikki Wills, reacted with frustration. “We were somewhat surprised and disappointed that the state made this decision at this time,” he said. “We had hoped that we could all reach a resolution in this case and were just taken aback by their actions.”

The defendants haven’t entered pleas for the new charges, but the 10 previously charged with hazing had pleaded not guilty.

To prove manslaughter, prosecutors could pursue several paths, said Tamara Lave, a University of Miami law professor and former public defender who said she had no inside knowledge of the case. They could argue the defendants’ acts caused Mr. Champion’s death and were not excused or justified.

Hank Nuwer, a professor at Franklin College in Franklin, Indiana, who has studied hazing for decades, said the stiffer charges could have repercussions nationally. “You would hope that it sends a message to students across the country in any kind of beating situation that there can be consequences,” he said.

Hazing Charges in Drum Major’s Death


Arian Campo-Flores

Updated May 2, 2012 8:45 pm ET


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Florida prosecutors charged 13 people Wednesday in connection with the suspected hazing death of a Florida college-band member, in a case that has heightened scrutiny of violent campus rituals across the U.S.






A Florida state attorney on Wednesday charged 13 individuals in connection with the hazing death of a Florida A&M University drum major in November. Arian Campo-Flores has details on The News Hub. Photo: AP.

The death last November of Florida A&M University drum major Robert Champion was “nothing short of an American tragedy,” Lawson Lamar, the state attorney for Orange County, said at a news conference.

Prosecutor on Charges in Florida A&M Hazing Death


Prosecutor on Charges in Florida A&M Hazing DeathPlay video: Prosecutor on Charges in Florida A&M Hazing Death

Florida State Attorney Lawson Lamar held a press conference to announce that charges have been filed against 13 individuals in the hazing death of Florida A&M student Robert Champion. Watch clips from the press conference. Video: Associated Press.

Mr. Lamar said 11 of the people face felony hazing charges, which carry a maximum sentence of six years in prison. The other two face misdemeanor hazing charges. Mr. Lamar said he wouldn’t release the names of those charged, since most of them hadn’t yet been arrested.

The case has raised pressure on Florida A&M, in Tallahassee, to address its campus hazing culture. Last week, two faculty members accused of being present during a separate hazing incident in 2010 resigned.

Robert Champion died after a suspected hazing incident. ILLUSTRATION: ASSOCIATED PRESS

In recent years, numerous states—including Florida—have passed tougher antihazing laws, said Hank Nuwer, a professor at Franklin College in Franklin, Ind., who has studied hazing for decades. As a result, those who engage in hazing face “the very good possibility of not only an ethical violation, but spending time in jail,” he said.

The scrutiny of Mr. Champion’s death could lead other universities to become more aggressive in addressing violent rites in bands, fraternities and sororities, said Mr. Nuwer.

Pam Champion, mother of Mr. Champion, said she was “totally disappointed” with the charges. “I was hoping for something a little bit stiffer to set an example,” she said. “My husband and I wanted to end this hazing.”

Mr. Champion, 26 years old, collapsed aboard a bus in Orlando after a hazing incident following a football game against rival Bethune-Cookman University, authorities said. The medical examiner’s office in Orlando ruled the death a homicide, caused by internal bleeding resulting from blunt-force trauma.

“We know that Robert Champion died as a result of being beaten” and “his death is not linked to one sole strike but is attributed to multiple blows.” Mr. Lamar said.

Lawson Lamar, state attorney for Orange County, Fla., standing next to Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, announced charges Wednesday in connection with Mr. Champion’s death. ILLUSTRATION: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Mr. Champion, who was previously healthy, died within an hour of the alleged hazing incident, according to the medical examiner’s report. An autopsy found “extensive contusions of his chest, arms, shoulder and back,” the report said.

In a statement released after the charges, Solomon Badger, chairman of the Florida A&M board of trustees, and university president James Ammons said, “We are vigorously working to eradicate hazing from FAMU and doing everything within our power to ensure an incident like this never happens again. Our hearts and our prayers are with the Champion family and the extended FAMU family as we all continue to deal with this tragedy.”

Christopher Chestnut, an attorney for Mr. Champion’s family, couldn’t be reached for comment.

The two former faculty members—Diron Holloway, the marching band’s director of saxophones, and Anthony Simons, an assistant professor of music—had received letters from school officials notifying them that the institution intended to dismiss them, said Mutaqee Akbar, an attorney for Mr. Simons who said he was also authorized to speak for Mr. Holloway. He said they denied the allegations against them, but decided to “protect themselves and their careers” and move on.

In their statement, Messrs. Badger and Ammons outlined steps Florida A&M has taken to address hazing on campus. Among the measures: the indefinite suspension of the marching band; the requirement that incidents be reported within 24 hours; and the formation of an independent anti-hazing committee to research ways to prevent the practice.

The hazing committee has encountered difficulties, as several members have quit in protest over a requirement its meetings take place in public.


Write to Arian Campo-Flores at

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  1. S.
  2. CRIME

Five Baruch Students Charged With Hazing in Frat Death

Murder charges expected against other students in 2013 death of Chun Hsien ‘Michael’ Deng


Mike Vilensky



Zolan Kanno-Youngs

Sept. 15, 2015 8:58 pm ET



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Chun Hsien ‘Michael’ Deng died in 2013 during a fraternity hazing ritual. PHOTO: COURTESY OF THE DENG FAMILY

Five Baruch College students on Tuesday were charged in connection with the 2013 death of a freshman participating in a fraternity hazing ritual, reigniting a debate about the place of Greek life at the Manhattan school.

A grand jury has recommended third-degree murder charges against five other fraternity members as well as the fraternity itself, and lesser charges against another 32 members, some of whom were charged Tuesday, police said. They expect to make the arrests in waves.

Chun Hsien “Michael” Deng died in December 2013 during a weekend trip to a Tunkhannock Township, Pa., house rented by Baruch’s Pi Delta Psi fraternity. There, he and other pledges were outfitted with weighted backpacks and beaten by fraternity members during a hazing ritual, according to the Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department.

Mr. Deng lost consciousness at some point, police said, and died after being taken to the hospital.

Pi Delta Psi didn’t respond to requests for comment on Tuesday. An attorney for one of the students charged on Tuesday said the students were charged with hazing and hindering apprehension.

The murder charges against other students are expected in the coming days or weeks. The Pocono police didn’t respond to requests for comment clarifying the timing of the charges.

Jim Swetz, an attorney for one of the students expected to face murder charges, said on Tuesday he would defend his client vigorously.

“What happened is a terrible tragedy,” Mr. Swetz said, “but not every tragedy involves criminal conduct.”

In a statement, an attorney for Mr. Deng’s family said: “Fraternities and their members must be held accountable, and this step by authorities is an important one.”

On Tuesday, news of the charges reverberated around Baruch, part of the City University of New York system with some 17,000 students. “Everybody’s kind of eerie about Greek life now,” said Laetitia Metellus, a 20-year-old senior. “I wouldn’t participate knowing what happened.”

Brad Williams, a recent Baruch graduate who lived in the same dorm as Mr. Deng, said the tragedy has resulted in extra attention paid to all extracurricular groups on campus.

“They’re really, really scrutinized right now,” he said.

Some students said the incident, while tragic, isn’t indicative of the campus culture. But others were pushing for wider changes.

Since Mr. Deng’s death in 2013, Baruch permanently banned Pi Delta Psi. In fall 2014, it suspended all pledging activities.

Greek life remains a small part of its campus life, with fewer than 100 students involved, school officials said.

Baruch, citing federal privacy rules, declined to say whether the fraternity members facing charges are still enrolled, but it said it “brought disciplinary proceedings against all of them, except for those who voluntarily withdrew from Baruch.”

In a statement, its president, Mitchel B. Wallerstein said: “We owe it to Michael and his family to hold accountable those who were responsible for the senseless death of this promising young man.”

Stephen Francoeur, a Baruch librarian, said on Tuesday that the school hasn’t had closure since Mr. Deng’s death and that its Greek culture hasn’t changed enough.

“The world would be a better place if they had a smaller presence on these campuses,” he said.

Critics of hazing practices are closely following the case. Hazing deaths that led to criminal convictions “can be counted on two hands,” said Hank Nuwer, a professor at Franklin College in Indiana and director of “Typically the charges get dropped or plea-bargained away. These charges are very serious, so it will be interesting to see if they stick.”

Prof. Nuwer said the incident at Baruch shouldn’t be seen as isolated.

Fraternities “see themselves as a culture all to themselves,” he said, “and part of the power and status associated with frats is that you can take a beating, you can drink an extreme amount of alcohol—that you’re part of a privileged group that’s able to do that.”

Mark Koepsell, executive director of the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors, disagreed.

“The death of this young man is a tragedy, and those involved should be held accountable,” he said. “This is an example of a fraternity gone wrong in an individual situation, but certainly not representative of the whole.”

Other area schools have changed their approach to fraternities and sororities in recent years. Connecticut’s Wesleyan University mandated in 2014 that all of its fraternities go coed.

Earlier this year, Rutgers University, in New Jersey, citing “a number of alcohol-related incidents,” suspended fraternity and sorority parties. Alfred University in upstate New York banned fraternities in 2002 after the death of a student during a fraternity-related incident.

Test for Colleges This Fall: Does Criminalizing Hazing Tame Fraternities?

State laws aim to prevent hazing-related accidents and deaths; ‘there is no such thing as good-natured hazing,’ says FSU president


Acacia Coronado

Oct. 12, 2019 5:30 am ET



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Florida implemented what is known as Andrew’s Law, after Florida State University student Andrew Coffey, who died after a hazing incident at a Pi Kappa Phi party. PHOTO: JOSEPH REEDY/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Pledging season for college fraternities is in high gear across the U.S., and this year they face stricter safety protocols and more state laws that criminalize hazing.

States including Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Pennsylvania and New York have strengthened laws in an effort to prevent hazing-related accidents and deaths since early 2018.

Cracking down on hazing is different than curtailing underage drinking because hazing involves various forms of harassment, from the forced consumption of alcohol to the physical abuse of college students trying to join a selective organization like a fraternity or sorority.

This month, Florida implemented what is known as Andrew’s Law, which gives legal immunity to anyone who renders aid to someone whose safety is endangered from hazing, even if they too were involved. Before this clause, there was no clear protection for students who called 911. The state also expanded the definition of hazing victims to include members and former members of a fraternity.

The law is named after Andrew Coffey, a student from Florida State University who died of alcohol poisoning after a Pi Kappa Phi party on “Big Brother Night” in 2017. He was found without a pulse the next morning, and fraternity brothers texted one another for 11 minutes before seeking help.

Five students pleaded guilty for misdemeanor hazing in the Coffey case, and a civil lawsuit settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.

The family of Louisiana State University student Maxwell Gruver, who died after a hazing ritual in 2017. PHOTO: MELINDA DESLATTE/ASSOCIATED PRESS

FSU President John Thrasher, a former state legislator, supported the bill. He said the university has no tolerance for hazing and is actively working with students to communicate concerns and ensure university values are reflected in campus activities.

“There is no such thing as good-natured hazing,” Mr. Thrasher said. “When you have a death like you have here, you have to take a step back and reflect on what are the values of this university.”

Victor Tran, assistant executive director of communications for Pi Kappa Phi, said hazing has no place in its organization and the chapter was immediately closed.

“Pi Kappa Phi supports state-based anti-hazing legislation that delivers greater transparency through stronger hazing reporting requirements, strengthens criminal penalties and encourages prosecution, calls for university accountability for bad actors, provides amnesty to encourage people to call for help, and calls for student education,” Mr. Tran said.

Hank Nuwer, a professor of journalism at Franklin College in Indiana, who has compiled data on hazing deaths for more than 30 years, said laws are doing little to curb the problem. Since 1975, he has researched more than 200 hazing and hazing-related deaths and written two books on the subject. He said fraternities have existed for centuries, but today there is cruelty never seen before.

“We are seeing so much more deaths in this alcohol era than ever,” Mr. Nuwer said.

The North American Interfraternity Conference, which represents 66 men’s fraternities, implemented new health and safety guidelines in September. Among the new regulations is a ban on alcohol with a proof of 15% or more at most fraternity events. The guidelines also reiterate federal laws, such as not consuming illegal substances.

But the conference doesn’t enforce policy, leaving that to the individual fraternities, which could mean the guidelines are more suggestions than rules.

In the past two weeks, Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, has suspended 15 Interfraternity Council member chapters, three sororities, a business co-ed fraternity and the marching band over hazing allegations, a university spokeswoman said.

In Louisiana, the state legislature approved a law in 2018 that clearly defines hazing, making it a criminal felony and raising the fine to up to $10,000. This year, legislators added a requirement that schools promptly report incidents to authorities and the public.

“We hope in the long run it will not only change lives but change the culture and make it unacceptable socially…and make hazing a thing of the past,” said Nancy Landry, a Republican and former state representative who sponsored hazing bills.

The law was sparked by the 2017 death of Louisiana State University student Maxwell Gruver, who died with a blood alcohol content six times the legal driving limit after a Phi Delta Theta ritual called “Bible Study.” One former student was convicted of negligent homicide, while two others were sentenced to 30 days in jail for hazing and fined $100. They weren’t tried under the new law.

LSU representatives said they couldn’t comment on pending litigation matters. Sean Wagner, chief operating officer of Phi Delta Theta, said following Mr. Gruver’s death the fraternity reviewed their health and safety policies, implemented new requirements such as bystander education and closed the LSU chapter.