York College could've tried to sweep its recent hazing scandal under the rug.

The violators in question could've been given their punishment without the school notifying anyone and the team could've attempted to move on as normal with its 2013-14 season.

After all, the NCAA does not have any anti-hazing policies, leaving the decision-making on the matter up to the schools. As a result, York College is under no obligation to report the incident to the governing body of college athletics.

The school also didn't have to notify parents, students or the media. It did so anyway, sending out a news release and emailing students and parents Wednesday evening.

Why?

Paul Saikia, assistant dean for athletics and recreation
Paul Saikia, assistant dean for athletics and recreation

"Our view is that, in particular, in the world of social media, it was going to get out there," Paul Saikia said Thursday night.

Saikia is the school's assistant dean for athletics and recreation and was one of three people who made the decision Wednesday to place the wrestling program on interim suspension while the school continues its investigation into a hazing incident that occurred among members of the team.

"We have student-athletes and everyone has a cell phone with Facebook and Twitter," Saikia said. "We had opponents that we had to let know we wouldn't be able to compete against. There were people outside the institution who were going to find out."


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And York College would've certainly been criticized if the news of a hazing scandal emerged elsewhere, which would've made the school look like it was hiding something. It wouldn't look much better if school officials didn't return phone calls from those wanting answers. But York has taken the opposite approach.

"The institution does want disclosure on this," Saikia said. "We want everyone to know we are handling this the best we can and we're not trying to hide it."

He feels York College, a private institution with a student body of 4,600 full-time students, has the right measures in place to prevent hazing -- such as an anonymous tip line for people to report suspicious behavior and the student and student-athlete codes of conduct, both of which are read to students and student-athletes at the beginning of each school year or sports season.

Timing: Upon doing some background work on the topic of hazing, it's no surprise on the timing of the York College incident.

Most hazing-related research points to hazing typically occurring near the beginning of a sports season. The York wrestling team was set to begin its 2013-14 season this Saturday.

"We do understand one of the things that's difficult for us is some of our sports, winter sports in particular, they have a delay before coaches are allowed to be involved with (players) because of NCAA rules," said Saikia, who coached the York baseball team for 24 seasons before moving into his current duties three years ago. "As a coach I wanted to be influencing those kids right out of the shoot, teaching them to be upstanding as a student, citizen and baseball player. For some of our teams, unfortunately, the kids float around for a month before the coaches can impose ideas upon them and developing a character or whatever. It's a shame in some ways that they start making up their own rules. And I think that's what happened here."

Doing the right thing: It's not that those in charge at York College should be commended for doing their jobs.

But the school made the right call by getting out in front of its hazing problem and disclosing information to the public, doing the right thing for an institution based on teaching its students just that.

"The most difficult thing for me really has been in knowing that we have student-athletes that have been negatively effected in different ways," Saikia said. "I'm doing my job and part of my job is dealing with troubles that have come along. I've spoken to many parents on the phone already. That's the hardest part of it all. You hope your collegiate program has the opportunity to enhance education. They (students) come to York College with high hopes and bright eyes and so forth. The experience that some got is damaged."

-- Reach John Walk at jwalk@yorkdispatch.com.