Five Wheaton College players have been charged with felonies following a March 2016 hazing incident gone horribly wrong. The players face charges of aggravated battery, mob action and unlawful restraint after an episode that reportedly left a freshman teammate duct taped with his pants down and a pair of torn shoulders on a baseball field.
As detailed by the Chicago Tribune, the unnamed player was watching the NCAA Tournament in his dorm room last March when several teammates entered and tackled him, restraining his legs and wrists in duct tape. The group put a pillow case on his head and took him to a nearby car. It gets worse from there:
At one point, the players suggested to the freshman that he had been kidnapped by Muslims who wanted to fornicate with goats, the teen told investigators. They patted his foot and suggested he would be their “goat” for the evening, the records said.
The freshman told investigators that his teammates restrained him with more duct tape during the drive, pulled down his shorts and underwear, then repeatedly tried to insert an object into his rectum. After the freshman yelled at them to stop, he was beaten, he said.
The players drove to a park located off campus and carried the freshman onto a baseball diamond, according to his account. The players threw dirt on the teen, took his cell phone and left him half-naked on the field, he said.
The freshman was not able to leave the field until a second player was dumped in a similar fashion and a group of classmates came looking for the other player. Both were then driven back to campus.
The unnamed freshman checked himself into a local hospital where doctors discovered tears in both shoulders, which have since required two surgeries to fix. His father moved him out of the dorm the next day, and he later withdrew from Wheaton.
Wheaton, a Division III school in Wheaton, Ill., on the western outskirts of Chicago, said in a statement that the college initiated an internal investigation in which it reviewed the school’s “anti-hazing policy and of the culture around how students treat one another in our campus communities, athletic teams and organizations.” The offending players were handed internal discipline, but all five remained on the team.
“The conduct we discovered as a result of our investigation into this incident was entirely unacceptable and inconsistent with the values we share as human beings and as members of an academic community that espouses to live according to our Community Covenant,” campus spokeswoman LaTonya Taylor said in a statement. “We are profoundly saddened that any member of our community could be mistreated in any way.”
Wheaton is led by head coach Mike Swider, who in 21-plus seasons ranks seventh among all active Division III coaches with a .797 winning percentage, winning 184 of his 231 career games. The Thunder are off to a 3-0 start to this season and are ranked in the top five nationally.
These allegations prove a reminder for all coaches that constant vigilance is required to prevent episodes such as these. All Wheaton athletes are required to sign anti-hazing policies annually, but five rogue actors can band together to put a teammate in a hospital, face serious jail time themselves, and potentially bring down an entire program on top of them — and for what? There is simply no upside for hazing and a tremendous, irreversible downside.