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March 14, 2014 — The one that may top them all

The world of collegiate lacrosse has seen its share of scandals, both on the men’s and the women’s sides.

But if the narrative reported earlier today about the women’s lacrosse team at the University of Maryland at Baltimore County is true, it is patently worse than perhaps any other misconduct this website has ever got wind of. Worse than the discredited Duke men’s lacrosse scandal in 2006, worse than the hazing that got the Vermont men’s ice hockey team’s season shut down in 2000, and worse than the assault charges that derailed the championship hopes of the 2011 Bloomsburg field hockey team.

The on-line publication Baltimore Post-Examiner published a letter and a minute fraction of screenshots from a mobile phone application called GroupMe, all as evidence of a culture of intimidation and bullying on the part of members of the women’s lacrosse team against the team’s freshmen.

The GroupMe application allows members of a group to text each other privately. According to the Post-Examiner narrative, the members of the group all showed outright hostility to the freshmen. And in the GroupMe application, none of the members of the group bothered to post using aliases or assumed identities; the GroupMe texts also have pictures of the women as avatars next to their texts.

The texts are vulgar, vile, and, taken in context with anti-bullying and anti-hazing efforts on college campuses around the country, are evidence of flagrant violations of not only existing university policies around the country, but are evidence of, frankly, a breakdown in good team dynamics.

Players on the UMBC team, instead of supporting their teammates, exhibit outright hostility in these texts towards an incoming freshman class which was the first recruiting class that co-head coaches Tony Giro and Amy (Appelt) Slade brought in after the controversial firing a few years ago of Kelly (Berger) Rabil.

The players in the GroupMe chat detail efforts to deliberately injure their teammates in practice, and even write terroristic threats. “Take down the coaches; kill the freshman,” says one text.

According to the Post-Examiner, the texts found their way to the UMBC administration on March 6, and the university responded by suspending five players and Giro for a March 11 game against Drexel.

Giro’s role with the team remains murky. According to the Post-Examiner story, he refused to coach the team until all of the players in the GroupMe chat were suspended by the university. The same story, however, said that Tim Hall, the UMBC athletic director, separated Giro from the rest of the team for an undisclosed period of time.

The five women suspended by the university did not play today in UMBC’s 12-11 victory over Manhattan. They, and Giro, remain listed on the school’s website as of the end of today.

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