EKU suspends rugby team over hazing incident

After investigating alleged hazing on the Eastern Kentucky University rugby team, EKU officials announced Thursday that they are suspending the team until August 2014, that the team will be on probation until spring classes start in 2016, and that all team members must attend an instructional session on hazing by Oct. 1, 2014.

The EKU Hazing Investigation Committee report, released Thursday, found that a freshman had been initiated into the team by being paddled with a piece of 2-by-4 nicknamed "Betsy." That treatment qualifies as hazing by EKU standards.

"Specifically, the Committee found that members of the rugby team have the opportunity to be asked or to ask to be paddled by "Betsy" ... Members can say no when asked to be paddled," the report said. "Members who are paddled have the option to keep their pants up or pull them down and sign 'Betsy' following the paddling. Members are considered part of the 'brotherhood' after being paddled. There is only one individual who is in possession of 'Betsy' and can use 'Betsy' to paddle."

Rugby is a club sport at EKU, 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. Registered student organizations are subject to the school's hazing policy.

The freshman whose initiation led to the investigation "was drunk at the time" of his paddling "and says it wasn't a big deal because everyone does it to be part of the group"; however, "blood was found in his room," the hazing committee found. The committee interviewed six people associated with the incident Oct. 29-31, the university said.

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