For the last week-and-a-half, I've heard from several former York College wrestlers and some parents of current wrestlers regarding the school's investigation into hazing incidents within the wrestling program.
When the program was put on interim suspension, a few people supported the school's actions. But many voiced their displeasure with the reputation of a highly successful program being dragged through the mud.
One of them was Tim Bohlman, a former two-time NCAA Division III All-American who wrestled for York College from 2003 to 2007.
"To send an email to every alumni and newspaper on the East Coast is the most embarrassing action taken by a school administration and athletic department I have ever seen. I am in no way condoning the events and actions of team members over the last month, but I am disgusted with the way it has all been handled," Bohlman wrote in a letter to the school administration that was also sent to local media outlets.
I responded by telling Bohlman and others we should wait until the investigation is completed to render a judgment. We should only take sides once we know the details.
Well, the school rendered its decision last Friday. What have we learned? According to the school, a handful of incidents involving physical assault and described as organized hazing rituals occurred off campus in the months of September and October. Some wrestlers were issued warnings, others were expelled.
The suspension has been lifted and the team will hit the mats Tuesday when it travels to Lycoming. The Spartans missed two events during the interim suspension.
Details: The exact number of wrestlers involved in the hazing incidents remains unclear. So, too, do the details of exactly what happened.
I understand the school is not allowed to identify the students involved or their discipline because the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act protects against the release of that information. But the details of what happened should be released. Not because we all want to know the scuttlebutt, but rather, current and future students need to know what constitutes hazing. And it will set a precedent should something similar happen in the future. Until then, the line between right and wrong when it comes to hazing will remain blurred.
But that's where my criticism stops, which I'm sure will ruffle some feathers from a very proud York College wrestling alumni base. Bohlman stood by his opinion when reached by phone Sunday evening.
"I just think they should've done a little more investigating before acting out and tarnishing the reputation of a team," he said. "Not just the team, but the school's name is going through the mud. The initial reaction of how they handled everything is pretty poor."
Juxtaposed with York College's investigation over the last week have been the bullying allegations out of the NFL involving a pair of Miami Dolphins' offensive lineman. Clearly, no one within the Dolphins' organization stepped in to put an end to the bullying.
York College, on the other hand, brought it to a halt immediately by placing the program on interim suspension Oct. 30 once it learned of the severity of the hazing incidents. Sure, the school's name and the wrestling program's reputation took a hit. But at least more wrestlers won't be victimized, those guilty are punished accordingly and the school, for the most part, appears to not be covering anything up.
Plus, look at Penn State football coach Bill O'Brien, who has proven it's possible to uphold a proud program that had its highly respected name dragged through the mud in much worse circumstances.
I have a feeling first-year coach and former two-time NCAA Division III national champion Duane Bastress will do the same for the York College wrestling program.
That's a point to which everyone I've chatted with during the last week-and-a-half agrees.
-- Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.