Hazing injury alleged on EKU club rugby team

jkegley@herald-leader.comOctober 24, 2012 

One person was injured while allegedly being hazed by members of the Eastern Kentucky University men's rugby team, leading to a suspension of the team while a committee investigates, a university official said.

Mike Reagle, associate vice president for student affairs, said the student reportedly was injured, but he did not think the student's injuries required hospitalization.

The university announced the interim suspension of the rugby team Tuesday evening. The organization is not allowed to hold social functions, practices or games until the school's Hazing Investigation Committee finishes looking into the allegations. Reagle said he could not discuss what the team is accused of doing or who made the report.

Tyler Farrell, the team's treasurer and past president, said in an emailed statement that the allegations were unfounded.

"We never have and never will haze anybody on our team. We are like family and anything we do is to bring us closer together and to instill trust in each other," he wrote. "Rugby is a violent sport and you need to be able to trust your teammates out there with you."

He said he did not know details of the allegations, including who made them and what was alleged to have happened.

"You would think if they have enough evidence to suspend us in the middle of our season they would be required to make it common knowledge to us, but apparently not," he said.

EKU's hazing committee, a panel of one faculty member, one staff member and one student, made the decision to place the team on an interim suspension after receiving a report Tuesday morning that a student was hazed, Reagle said.

"It was alleged that an individual was hurt," he said. "That's what brought this level of seriousness to it."

Rugby is considered a club sport and the team is a registered student organization, meaning the school does not pay coaches or staff and the team maintains more independence than other sports teams. However, registered student organizations are subject to the school's hazing policy.

"Hazing is something that we take a very, very hard line on," he said.

There was no timetable for when the committee could finish its investigation. Members likely would start interviewing students and witnesses next week, Reagle said.

According to EKU's hazing policy, potential penalties include campus judicial actions, sanctions or criminal prosecution.

Josh Kegley: (859) 231-3197.Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.

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