Dear Parents of Future Student-Athletes at Cornell University:
As some of you may already know, last week the men’s lacrosse team at Cornell University was caught hazing its freshmen teammates and had their season suspended.
Actually, no, they had their fall EXHIBITION schedule canceled. The real men’s lacrosse season is in the spring and the team was really only scheduled to play a couple of scrimmages this fall. They are still going to class, still going to practice and they’re still going to pursue another national championship next spring. This so-called punishment is a slap on the wrist.
How do I know? If this punishment had any teeth to it, the parents of these spoiled brats would have called a press conference and every high priced lawyer on the East coast would be suing the school right now. But that didn’t happen.
The school admits that members of the lacrosse team forced freshmen to drink alcohol until they vomited. That’s not just a little paddling in the locker room or some stupid scavenger hunt. Those are serious charges and possibly criminal acts. And, yet, they can’t bring themselves to cancel the REAL season or boot the perpetrators off the team for good. Even though, based on this report, members violated New York hazing laws. (Hello? Is there a local prosecutor awake somewhere in upstate New York who should be pressing charges?) They also clearly violated Cornell’s much ballyhooed anti-hazing policy, which was put into place after a fraternity pledge DIED in 2011 from a hazing incident.
You would think Cornell would get it by now, wouldn’t you?
What’s even more surprising is that Cornell publicly boasted about how important it is to eradicate hazing in a recently published op/ed piece in USA Today called “Hazing is Never Okay” penned by none other than University President David J. Skorton and Susan H. Murphy, vice president for student and academic services. (I hear they are working on a revised version called “Hazing is Never Okay . . . Unless You’re an Elite Jock on a Nationally Ranked Team.”)
You see parents, Cornell has done the easy part: writing a policy then posting it online. They even slap a few Greek organizations around when they get out-of-line with their pledges. But when it comes to actually enforcing their policy on a sports team that has a chance at a national title . . . they fold like a cheap suit. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The reputation of the school and the possibility of an NCAA title are more valuable to the school than your child’s safety.
Cornell had the opportunity to show its students and the rest of the academic world what its priorities are and it failed. President Skorton and Vice President Murphy, you are hypocrites and cowards. The boys on the lacrosse team publicly spit in your faces and you did nothing.
So parents, you may want to think twice before sending your budding athletes here because the Cornell administration has sent a clear message: We talk big, but refuse to stand by our principles in a critical situation. And this is also why punishing student-athletes for hazing has to be done by someone outside the athletic department and possibly outside the university. NCAA, are you paying attention?
Make no doubt about it parents: you and your children are on your own.