September 19, 2013

Cornell Suspended from Fall Ball Events After Hazing Investigation

by Corey McLaughlin | | Twitter | McLaughlin Archive

Cornell, an NCAA semifinalist this spring, will not play any fall events after a hazing incident, according to a release by the University.
Kevin P. Tucker

updated 09.19.2013 at 9.03 p.m.

The post-Rob Pannell era at Cornell is off to an inauspicious start.

The university on Thursday released a statement announcing that all of the Big Red's fall competitions are canceled after an investigation into a what athletic director Andy Noel said was a "team hazing incident."

A university spokesperson later confirmed to Lacrosse Magazine that the men's lacrosse team is being disciplined for alleged "coerced consumption of alcohol by underage freshmen."

Noel said that on Sept. 13 the team was placed on temporary suspension pending appropriate sanctions. Effective Thursday, "the team will resume training and practice in accordance with sanction guidelines," Noel said, meaning it will still practice.

"Hazing practices are harmful and antithetical to our values as a university and our commitment to student-athletes. They have no place in Cornell University athletics. I am particularly concerned with coercive traditions that abuse the power differential between new students and upperclassman," Noel said.

"Team bonding is important, and there are many ways to achieve it that don't involve hazing. The health and safety of students is our foremost priority. We provide anti-hazing education to all of our student-athletes. We will work with this team intensely in the next days, weeks and months to educate them on the problematic actions and to help them identify appropriate, healthy, activities in which they can bond. We need our upperclassmen to model the high level of behavior we demand from our student-athletes at Cornell."

Cornell, a national semifinalist last year, graduated 19 seniors, including 2013 Tewaaraton Award winner Pannell.

Pannell is not the only notable player gone from last year's Big Red squad. So is 60-goal scorer Steve Mock, midfielder Max Van Bourgondien (30 goals), first-team All-American defenseman Jason Noble, a standout pole in Thomas Keith and starting goalie A.J. Fiore. Perhaps no NCAA tournament team could use game time this fall more than Cornell.

Coach Ben DeLuca's Big Red was scheduled to play Sept. 28 at Cortland in an event featuring the Iroquois National Team and Israel National Team.

Cornell was also supposed to play in the second annual Capital Lacrosse Invitational on Oct. 13 to support and promote the Mario St. George Boiardi Foundation, in memory of Boiardi, the Big Red midfielder who died at 22 after being struck in the chest with a ball during a March 2004 game against Binghamton.

Cornell, Penn State, Bucknell and Lehigh were to play a round robin and two games throughout the day at the Landon School in Bethesda, Md.

"We are working as a community to heighten awareness, increase education, support positive team-building programs, and apply sanctions to address the dangerous situations involving hazing activities and/or use of alcohol," said Susan Murphy, Cornell's vice president for student and academic services. "Work on this campus has focused on the empowerment of students in particular to refuse to promote or participate in demeaning or dangerous acts, and to intervene when they are aware of it occurring to others. Hazing must stop now."

Last fall, there was similar discipline when Vanderbilt women's lacrosse team withdrew from a fall event after allegations of hazing.

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