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Jock Jokesters: Did coaches give permission to haze at USC?

Excerpt:

In January Incident, Eight Veteran Players Cited By UCPD for On-Campus Hazing of Freshmen
Campus officials say they are investigating an incident in which eight Cal baseball players were cited by UC police for participating in hazing six freshman players in January.According to a police report, UCPD officers found the eight veteran baseball players near Evans Diamond with six freshman players who were wearing only G-string underwear and shoes just after 11 p.m. on Jan. 15. Two of the freshmen were blindfolded.

The players described the incident as an “initiation” event to the police. The six freshmen were standing outside in the 34-degree weather waiting, team members told police, to run an obstacle course set up on Evans Diamond. The officers did not find an obstacle course, the report said.

UCPD Lt. Douglas Wing said police do not suspect alcohol was involved in the incident.

The players were disciplined internally by the coaches and the athletic department, said Deputy Athletic Director Steve Holton. A report has also been filed with Student Judicial Affairs, said UC Berkeley Dean of Students Jonathan Poullard.

Holton said the students had clearance to be on the premises.

“The coaches thought it was going to be a legitimate team-building activity,” he said.

UCPD alerted the Alameda County District Attorney’s office to the incident. Assistant District Attorney Martin Brown said he did not charge the players with a crime because no one was injured, the players said they got permission to use the facilities and he did not see any indication of

criminal intent.

“(The incident) was on the lower end of the hazing spectrum,” Brown said.

Holton said he met with head coach David Esquer and pitching coach Dan Hubbs to discuss disciplinary actions the morning after the incident.

Poullard said campus officials are still investigating the incident. Student Judicial Affairs Director Neal Rajmaira said he was not aware whether a hearing on the incident has been scheduled.

None of the players were suspended from the team or lost playing time, Holton said. The eight students have all played in games this year, and a number of them are starting players.

“There were different physical activities that they were required to do,” Holton said, adding that players were required to write letters of apology to campus security.

“We handled it internally and we put down some guidelines and procedures for the people that participated in that,” Esquer said. “Steve (Holton) was comfortable with what we had done internally. We had three or four steps of things the kids had to do.”

Holton said the students had received clearance from coaches to use the locker room on the night of the incident, but Esquer said he did not clear the plans.

“I did not personally OK them to use the locker room. No one on our staff was involved in condoning any of those actions,” Esquer said. “They were actually caught entering the premises, which they weren’t supposed to be.”

The police report stated that the players questioned by the UCPD officers said Hubbs had signed off on the event, and stated that Hubbs “knows, but doesn’t know” about the event and that they “do it every year.”

Hubbs could not be reached for comment yesterday. Three players, including one listed as a suspect in the police report, declined to comment.

Ryan Gorcey covers baseball. Julie Strack is the assistant city news editor. Contact them at newsdesk@dailycal.org.

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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