The following letter has been sent to the York College president:
Dear Dr. Gunter Smith,
As it is now known, York College athletic director Paul Saikia decided to place the entire wrestling team on "interim suspension" pending an investigation into alleged hazing charges.
As a four-year wrestler for York College from 2002 to 2006, four-year athletic honor roll recipient, dean's list recipient for three semesters and a member of a conference champion, top-five nationally ranked Division 3 wrestling program, I can say that there are very few things I am more proud of than my time spent at York College.
I put a lot of time into studying, wrestling and growing as a person, and I am very proud of the results. The York College experience has made me who am I today, and the lessons learned there have been a huge reason why I have had a highly successful career in outside sales.
My four years on the college wrestling team have also aided in my personal successes as a varsity assistant wrestling coach.
To put it bluntly, York College helped me in becoming who I am today.
That is why, as I write this letter to you, I must call for full transparency in the investigation of the hazing charges of the York College wrestling team.
If this is a criminal matter, than it needs to be turned over to the authorities. Far too often, those in academia choose to bully and judge innocent students based on nothing more than a hunches and gossip (it certainly happened in my time at York College).
If they are guilty, this needs to go above the pay grade of campus security, although the fact that this investigation was started via an "anonymous" email leads me to believe that there may not be a lot of truth to these charges.
Also, I am asking that the moment a wrestler (and coach) is cleared of any wrongdoing, he be allowed to return to full participation (practice and competition).
As any former wrestler can tell you, if you stop wrestling for as little as three days, you lose a significant portion of your conditioning. This leaves you prone to serious injury and puts you at an immeasurable competitive disadvantage. Wrestling is not like other sports (baseball, golf, archery, etc.) where you can pick up a bat and hit a home run (or hole in one) and then go sit down on the bench to rest from your quick jog around the bases. The college wrestler is required to be in peak physical condition to battle another grown man for up to 20 minutes at a time (when clock stoppage is considered). Considering that most tournaments have wrestlers competing in up to six matches a day, it is imperative that their training be allowed to continue.
Lastly, I feel the need to posit these questions.
Is this who we have become as a society, let alone a college? One anonymous email leads an unchecked athletic director to blindly punish an entire team before they are even found guilty?
Is this fair to the innocent students who are spending upwards of $25,000 to wrestle for York College and are being punished because of a few (alleged) bad apples? As you well know, York College is Division 3, which means not one athlete is receiving an athletic scholarship.
Anyone who knows Duane Bastress (or Tom Kessler, his predecessor) absolutely knows that if hazing occurred, it was not endorsed by the coaches (or even ignored, for that matter, as it was in Penn State for a decade, although that's an entirely different matter). Duane is a straight-forward, honest, law-abiding and caring person and is the best person to lead the team (which is why he was hired in the first place).
Thank you for your time.