A Towson University hazing case will keep the school's national championship-winning cheerleading team off the sidelines for an entire year after allegations of an off-campus incident.
The school started an investigation in early August after it received an anonymous tip of a hazing incident. The school's suspension means that just months after winning the National Cheerleaders Association's college championship, the team will not allowed to practice or perform at competitions at all this year.
There are more than 30 cheerleaders on the 2013-2014 squad, which represents the university at a number of functions both on and off campus. Administrators said they took a hard-line stance in accordance with athletic department policy.
"Hazing in any form will not be tolerated at Towson University. We hold high expectations for all of our students and their conduct as leaders, both on and off campus," Dr. Deb Moriarty, Towson University's vice president for student affairs said in a statement. "Out of concern for students' privacy and their rights to due process, that includes their right to appeal the suspension, it would be inappropriate for the university to comment further."
The team has chosen to appeal the sentence, but in the meantime the Towson University athletics department is working with its fan development program to come up with some kind of alternative to pump up fans at sporting events.
News of the Towson University hazing case put a damper on what was otherwise a historic accomplishment for its athletic department. On Thursday the school's football team defeated Connecticut 33-18, the university's first win against a team in the Football Championship Subdivision, formerly known as Division I-A.
Towson University also generated controversy earlier this year when a campus group, the White Student Union, organized patrols to stop "black on white" crime on campus. The student-run organization was deemed a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
School officials released few details about the Towson University hazing incident, but did say it took place off campus and involved several members of the team. No one was hurt in the incident, administrators said.