Terps probe drinking, hazing allegations

Nearly a dozen teams cited in unsigned e-mail



The University of Maryland, College Park has begun investigating allegations of hazing and underage alcohol drinking in its athletic program.

An anonymous e-mail sent May 31 to university President C. D. Mote and Athletic Director Debbie Yow accused nearly a dozen teams of transgressions, the Washington Post reported yesterday.

The alleged offenses ranged from escorting high school recruits to off-campus bars to hazing new athletes at the school. All would be violations of the university's code of conduct for student athletes.

The most striking allegation, which Senior Associate Athletic Director Rob Mullens dismissed as being of "no credit," depicted Maryland's six-time national champion women's lacrosse team as having consumed alcoholic beverages in front of Associate Athletic Director Dave Haglund on the way back from southern New Jersey after the team's most recent national title last month.

"It's ridiculous," said Tonia Porres, a senior defender on the women's lacrosse team. "I can't even comment on that."

Haglund, also serving as athletic department spokesman, declined to comment on the investigation. But in a statement released by the department yesterday, Yow said that "the anonymous allegations made via the e-mail of May 31 are being considered seriously and reviewed appropriately."

Yow said the athletic department would forward the potential conduct code violations to the school's Office of Judicial Programs for review. University officials would not set a timetable on length of the investigation.

A women's lacrosse player being recruited by Maryland but who chose another school said she was offered alcohol by Maryland players who knew she was underage. The recruit, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said she wasn't pressured to drink during the recruiting visit.

The e-mail said that women's volleyball, soccer and lacrosse teams conducted initiation events in which drinking alcohol was encouraged. It also said track and field team members were urged to wear uniforms all day and perform skits in front of crowds at the campus dining hall.

Hazing is "intentionally or recklessly subjecting any person to the risk of bodily harm, or severe emotional distress, or causing or encouraging any person to commit an act that would be a violation of the law or a university regulation, for the purposes of fostering or confirming any form of affiliation with a student group or organization," according to the Terrapins Student-Athlete Handbook.

The electronic message's sender claimed "widespread knowledge that members of other teams ... engaged in underage drinking." The e-mail acknowledged its writer's friendship with one of 15 baseball players suspended for three games in March because of underage drinking.

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