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Cornell Lacrosse Suspension: Sources Contradict Initial "Coerced Consumption" Allegations, University Issues Report

The existence of "keg races" appears to be the big issue in Ithaca.

Drew Hallowell

Two chunks of information have emerged since last week: (1) Sources have indicated to Inside Lacrosse that "coerced consumption" did not take place among the Red's lacrosse team; and (2) Cornell issued a brief report on the hazing allegations that have sidelined the Red from fall competition. As is the case with such situations, there is some dissonance between the two sets of information.

As Terry Foy writes, sources -- with second-hand knowledge of the situation -- are specifically contradicting allegations of "coerced consumption" and have also indicated that no mental or physical abuse was targeted toward new members of the team:

The sources, who have second-hand knowledge of the incident, told IL that the allegations of hazing stem from a team event during orientation in August. Sources acknowledge that while underage drinking took place at the party, there was no hard alcohol served and no mental or physical abuse targeting new members of the team; the sources contradicted reports of coerced consumption and added that there were no arrests or injuries in the wake of the event.

Rob Pannell, late of the Cornell program, told Foy that he was "confident" that "no hazing within the Cornell lacrosse team" had taken place based on his five years within the program.

Late Sunday evening, however, the university issued a violations report, describing the incidents that led to the team's suspension for the fall period. Here's the juice:

Description: On September 12, 2013, the Department of Athletics and Physical Education received information informing them that the new members of the men’s varsity lacrosse team were being hazed by the upperclass members of the team. The investigation revealed the presence of a culture within this group of treating new members as less than equals. The freshmen were expected to perform menial tasks, including chores and other duties that went above and beyond those expected of the general membership. Additionally, they were expected to spend a large amount of time with the other members in both lacrosse-related and social situations planned by upperclass members of the team. At one such social gathering, upperclass team members organized a “keg race” in which underage freshmen members, aided by seniors, were challenged to drink a large amount of alcohol (beer) in a competition against other team members. The freshmen were told to stand in a circle and were tied together with string that was passed through their belt loops. They consumed a large quantity of alcohol to the point at which multiple members vomited.

I highly doubt that Cornell pulled the lacrosse team from fall competition based on the fact that freshman were "expected to perform menial tasks, including chores and other duties that went above and beyond those expected of the general membership." If universities were in the business of temporarily suspending student organization for that kind of stuff (assuming the chores and tasks weren't disgustingly degrading or physically violent, bordering on the criminal), there wouldn't be an operating student organization on the planet. It's the other aspect of the incident report -- the "keg race" where freshman were tied together -- that likely caused the temporary suspension.

The difficult reconciliation, of course, is the statements from sources that coercive consumption did not take place and the report on the "keg race."