St. Olaf learned of baseball team hazing 'anonymously'

St. Olaf's baseball team was set to play a doubleheader on Saturday, but instead, the players are benched for the entire season after an investigation revealed the team took part in several hazing incidents. The school is hoping this will be a teachable moment.

School leaders say the team struck out and used poor judgment by violating the NCAA's hazing policy.

"The administration learned of it rather anonymously through some chatter on social media," St. Olaf communications director Steve Blodgett said.

Blodgett wouldn't get into the details, but said several incidents happened last month both on and off campus. According to the investigation, the players ridiculed, harassed, and engaged in "public displays of servitude" along with underage drinking, then lied and tried to cover it up.

With the school administration continuing to be vague, rumors started to spread regarding slave-like behavior and racial overtones. Blodgett contended those rumors are false and said they took swift and appropriate action to cancel the entire season. All 26 players, including their stats and bios, have been scrubbed from the team's website. The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) will operate as a 10-team baseball conference in 2015.

St. Olaf is a private college institution based in Northfield, Minn. that plays Division III baseball. The students are on spring break, but players at a volleyball tournament on campus feel for their fellow student athletes.

"You commit a lot of time to the sport as well as academics, so to have something like that stripped away -- it would be kind of tough," student John Goossens said.

Ultimately, a poor decision to play outside the lines cost the team the season and their reputation. School leaders said the players will be allowed to continue classes at St. Olaf, but other consequences are being considered. The school is expecting to have a full season next year.

"You lose that chance to really go out there and put your stamp on where you've been, and what you've done with this team," student Nick Wienold said.
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