The York College wrestling team's interim suspension has been lifted, the school announced in a news release Friday morning. However, the program has been placed on a one-year probation period, and wrestlers will have to perform community service.
The team had been placed on an interim suspension since Oct. 30 as the school investigated hazing allegations within the program.
The investigation concluded this week with 34 of the team's 40 wrestlers who were accused of violating the Student Code of Conduct and the Student-Athlete Code of Conduct, including the college's anti-hazing policy, being brought before an administrative judicial board.
"There were 34 who went through (the judicial board). Not all sanctioned. Not all held responsible," college spokeswoman Mary Dolheimer said by phone Friday morning.
Those wrestlers have been informed by the Office of Student Conduct of their disciplinary sanctions, which range from official warning up to and including expulsion from the college, according to the news release.
When asked if any wrestlers have been expelled from the school, Dolheimer said, "if you look at the press release, the sanctions went from official notice to expulsion."
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act protects against the release of information identifying he students who were disciplined or specifying what their discipline was."
Handful of incidents: Dolheimer said a handful of hazing incidents involving physical assault occurred off campus during September and October. She declined to detail exactly what happened but did say the incidents were "organized hazing rituals" that were consistently the same each time they occurred.
"Some of our student-athletes on the wrestling team were subjected to initiation rites from their teammates," school president Pamela Gunter-Smith said in the news release. "These actions have no place at our school or on any college campus, and they will not be tolerated."
The original decision to put the program on interim suspension was made by Gunter-Smith, dean of student affairs Jon Merkle and assistant dean for athletics and recreation Paul Saikia.
On Oct. 30, Saikia said the school learned of the violations from an anonymous email received "a couple weeks ago."
As to why wrestlers who were victimized in the assaults did not immediately inform the school of the incidents, Dolheimer declined comment because "I have not been involved in the discussions" with the wrestlers.
No criminal charges have been filed as a result of the investigation, Dolheimer said. She also reiterated that the coaching staff was unaware of the incidents and that first-year coach Duane Bastress is still leading the program. Bastress could not be reach for comment.
In addition, the 13 wrestlers who were cut from the team following wrestle-offs - an individual tournament among the team members to decide its 10 starters - on Oct. 25 were interviewed by the school's office of campus safety and were found to have not been involved in the hazing incidents, Dolheimer said.
Probation, community service: The wrestling program will be placed on disciplinary probation through the 2013-14 academic year, according to the news release. That includes official notice that the conduct of the student-athletes participating in the program must be in accordance with college regulations and athletic department policies, and that future issues or violations could prompt further disciplinary action.
"That basically means the entire team is put on notice that behavior should be exemplary," Dolheimer said. "That should they choose as a group to violate the student code of conduct in the future that there is a possibility the school would consider suspending the program in the future."
In addition, members of the wrestling program will be required to perform community service during the 2013-14 academic year. Dolheimer said the school's athletic office is determining what exactly the community service work will entail for the wrestlers. Paul Saikia, the school's assistant dean for athletics and recreation, deferred all questions to Dolheimer.
"I think that this has been a very emotional time for the young men who have been participating in this program," Dolheimer said. "We as an institution attempted in every way possibly to make this a fair and thorough investigation and hand out appropriate disciplinary actions."
Dolheimer isn't sure when the team will return to practice. The team missed two events during the suspension but will return to action this Tuesday when it travels to Lycoming.
Reaction: While some York College wrestlers declined comment, others posted their reactions to the team being reinstated on Twitter.
"#YCPwrestling is my family and we've never been more hungry and fueled to make a statement and dominate this country," senior Chuck Glatz posted to the social media site.
"Let's get to it baby! This was definitely a wake up call to our team. Way to stick together guys. #LaceUp #ItsGoTime #YCPwrestling," junior T.J. Demetrio tweeted.
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