UNC-Chapel Hill must set high standard to end hazing

08/28/2014 6:13 PM

08/29/2014 4:09 AM

It’s the great winked-at joke among athletes and many fraternity members. A university sets out a policy against hazing, or initiations that get out of hand, promising no tolerance for such shenanigans.

And behind the scenes, it happens anyway.

Now, in Chapel Hill, four football players have been suspended for the first game of the season. The reason? A violation of team policies, coach Larry Fedora says. He didn’t say which policies.

But Yahoo! Sports reported that a nonscholarship wide received, Jackson Boyer, had sustained a concussion as a result of an alleged hazing incident. There is no police record of what happened, and no authorities were called to the hotel where the alleged incident happened in early August.

No one is commenting, and no details appear forthcoming. But for a university that has spent about three years embroiled in controversies involving academic scandals and the connections to athletics, silence on this matter is not acceptable. The longer the university waits to let the public know what happened here and whether it was related to hazing, the more it risks hurting its credibility and prolonging the story,

The university is looking into the issue, and the athletics department won’t be in charge of it. But as resistant to comment as universities tend to be about such matters, Chapel Hill doesn’t have that luxury because of its recent problems. The university, in dealing with alleged hazing – it’s not yet clear what happened – could in fact have an opportunity to set an example for others and raise awareness that on many campuses, in fraternities and on athletic teams, hazing is a problem.

The suspension of four players, two of them starters, is a step in the right direction.

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