Tufts University suspended 27 members of its men’s lacrosse team for two games in the upcoming season, after an investigation found that the players behaved inappropriately during a women’s volleyball game last semester.
John Barker, dean for undergraduate and graduate students, and Bill Gehling, director of athletics, wrote in a letter published in The Tufts Daily that the conduct occurred during a game between Tufts and Smith College in September. Spectators, players, and coaches from Tufts and Smith were interviewed, they wrote.
“The investigation concluded that unacceptable behavior did occur, and members of our men’s lacrosse team were responsible for that behavior,” the letter said.
Kimberly Thurler, a spokeswoman for Tufts, said the university took the incident seriously and conducted a thorough investigation.
“Those students who were involved in misbehavior made a significant mistake and are being held accountable for that mistake,” Thurler said in an e-mailed statement. “This will be an important learning experience for them. We continue to encourage students and others in our community to support our athletic teams in an enthusiastic, respectful, and positive manner.”
In September, The Tufts Daily published an opinion article by a student who said she attended a Smith-Tufts women’s volleyball game where the Smith players were “subjected to sexist and racist heckling from male fans” at Cousens Gymnasium.
Partway through the second set, she wrote, a group of more than 20 men, many of whom were wearing Tufts lacrosse apparel, showed up at the game. They also directed insults at Tufts players, she said.
In addition to being benched for two games, members of the men’s lacrosse team who were at the game are being asked to write letters of apology to the Tufts and Smith coaches and teams.