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Amherst College men’s cross-country team on probation over e-mails

Students walk on the campus of Amherst College in Amherst, MA on Thursday, January 29, 2015. (Matthew Cavanaugh for The Boston Globe)

Matthew Cavanaugh for The Boston Globe

Amherst College in Amherst.

The Amherst College men’s cross-country team has been placed on probation for four semesters following an investigation into the exchange of inappropriate online messages among team members, college officials said Monday.

The team was suspended last month after an online student publication reported that sexist and racist emails were sent among team members between June 2013 and August 2015. The college brought in independent investigators, who found that incoming students were “encouraged to participate” in the messages as “part of their introduction to the team.”

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Investigators determined that no member of the current team engaged in criminal conduct, including sexual assault and illegal drug use.

“The results also show that the level of involvement in the exchanges varied widely from individual to individual, with several engaged in the most active and problematic roles, others less active, and others not active at all,” college officials said. “Some stood up to teammates with objections to the content of the messages, but no one reported the problems to the coaches, Director of Athletics, or the Office of Student Affairs.”

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The team has been placed on “athletics probation” through the fall of 2018. Several team members will be suspended from varsity athletics for varying amounts of time, including the rest of their college career. Those who are allowed to return will be required to meet with the dean of student conduct and participate in an “educational process.”

Amherst’s dean of student conduct will also review the actions of some individuals who are not currently on the team.

Felicia Gans can be reached at felicia.gans@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaGans.
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