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Columbia Athletics Statement on Wrestling Program

By BV, 11/18/16, 7:00PM EST

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Courtesy of gocolumbialions.com

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Columbia’s Department of Athletics has completed its investigation of the school’s varsity wrestling team, working together with the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards. Over the past week we made it clear that the team would not compete while the investigation was pending. It has now been determined that the deeply offensive group messaging and texts were written, sent and viewed by a distinct group within the wrestling team. While all team members feel a sense of collective responsibility and regret for what was said and done by some, the investigation found that the individual student-athletes who participated in the group chat acted on their own.

Those responsible for the offensive statements in the group chat have lost the privilege to represent Columbia University in intercollegiate athletics competition and have been immediately suspended from the wrestling squad through the rest of the season and 2016-17 academic year. Other individuals have been suspended from the squad until the beginning of the spring 2017 semester.

We recognize that free speech is a core value both of the University community and of our nation. Our students and faculty have the right to express themselves and their views, whether through their public or private communications. However, the group text messages that have been brought to light do not meet the standard of behavior we expect from our student-athletes at Columbia. Prior to the start of each competition season, Columbia Athletics shares with its teams a code of conduct, outlining our expectations for individual and team behavior. The messages are appalling and violate team guidelines.

Moving forward, members of the wrestling team who were found to be uninvolved in the offensive group messages are cleared for competition and will be able to wrestle at this weekend’s New York State Championships in Ithaca, N.Y.

The wrestling team is collectively committed to making amends and will do more than simply apologize to individuals and groups rightly offended by the words or actions of some team members.

In response to this incident Columbia Athletics has recommitted itself to promoting a culture of respect and inclusivity. For the wrestling team, this will include working with leaders like Hudson Taylor, who as Founder and Executive Director of Athlete Ally, has become an admired advocate of ending discrimination in sports.

We sincerely hope these disciplinary actions and ongoing commitments will help Columbia wrestling and all of Columbia’s athletics programs set an example that makes our University proud.