Wilfrid Laurier University's varsity baseball team avoided a season-long suspension Monday when the school decided to permit the squad to return after serving a four-game ban for a hazing incident.
School officials met with team members Sunday to give them the chance to make a case for allowing them to resume play this year. In a release, the university said the decision came after players apologized for the incident, volunteered to raise awareness and education about related issues and made a commitment to uphold the school's student-athlete code of conduct.
"These young men obviously dedicated themselves to some serious reflection and discussion over the past few days," athletics and recreation director Peter Baxter said. "The university has a zero-tolerance policy with regard to hazing. I am convinced that the members of our baseball team now appreciate why any form of hazing is unacceptable.
"I believe they have learned from their mistakes and will carry these learnings forward into the rest of their season and beyond. The real measure of their commitment will be their follow-through, and we plan to hold them accountable to it."
The baseball team forfeited two doubleheaders last week following an investigation by the university's athletics and recreation department into hazing activity during a team party this month. Specifics on the hazing incident weren't released but Baxter said no one was injured.
The players also plan to deliver anti-hazing and anti-bullying presentations to schools, further develop the team's code of conduct to set higher standards for player safety and well-being and initiate new team-building traditions.
"Following significant reflection, together with purposeful planning for change, we believe there is a stronger commitment to meaningful peer-to-peer education, team building and high standards of student athlete safety and well-being," said David McMurray, Laurier's vice-president of student affairs.
Laurier will resume its season Tuesday against Brock University. The Golden Hawks have a 4-8 record with nine games remaining in the regular season.
Hazing has been a problem at other schools in the past.
In December 2010, the men's volleyball squad at St. Thomas University in Fredericton was suspended following the death of a rookie who participated in a hazing event at a team party. A police report concluded 21-year-old Andrew Bartlett had been drinking and later fell down some stairs at his apartment building and hit his head.
In October 2005, McGill University cancelled the remainder of its men's football season due to a hazing incident that involved nudity and degrading behaviour.