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Princeton University Men’s Swimming and Diving Season Over

The Princeton University men’s swimming and diving team will not compete in any meets for the rest of the season because of emails on the men’s swimming and diving team listserv and other materials circulated by the team that were vulgar, offensive, misogynistic and racist, school officials said.

Princeton University Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan informed the team of her decision to suspend the rest of the season today. The team will not compete in its final two scheduled regular season meets versus Navy on Jan. 7 and versus Harvard and Yale on Feb. 5. The team will also miss the Ivy League Championships Feb. 22-25.

The team was suspended on Dec. 15 while school officials weighed whether a suspension for the remainder of the season was warranted. School officials received a complaint alerting them about the materials that were being circulated.

“We make clear to all of our student-athletes that they represent Princeton University at all times, on and off the playing surface and in and out of season, and we expect appropriate, respectful conduct from them at all times,” Samaan said in a statement a week ago. “The behavior that we have learned about is simply unacceptable. It is antithetical to the values of our athletic program and of the University, and will not be tolerated.”

School officials have not elaborated more on the the items that were circulated.

Princeton is among several schools—including Harvard, Columbia and Amherst—that have responded to similar incidents in recent months. Harvard University canceled the remainder of the men’s soccer team in November after the Harvard Crimson published a story detailing the team members’ sexually explicit “scouting reports” about the women’s team.

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

  • Lev Borisov

    It is likely not 100%, because there must have been a whistleblower.

    I can only guess what’s going on since the University is keeping as much as they can private. The other choice would be to make the contents of the messages public and punish specific students in some way. Whether it is an astute PR/legal move, I don’t know, but that’s largely what this is all about from the athletic department’s point of view. So far, their approach is working well for the University, but let’s wait a few weeks. Someone may decide that the punishment does not fit the misdeed (one way or the other) and leak some info. The resulting s-storm might be precisely what Princeton is trying hard to avoid.

    The following is only a speculation and nothing more. It would be a situation where I could easily see the University respond the way it did.

    Let’s say there are 30 people on the team. Perhaps half a dozen or a dozen of them spread some grossly unethical messages. Let’s say none of this rises to the level of criminal behavior but contradicts norms of civilized society and student athletes’ ethical guidelines. Most of the rest of the team may have felt uncomfortable (or not) but did not intervene by objecting privately or publicly. After it has gone on for some time, at least one whistleblower showed it to someone in the athletic department. The department decided that athletes who did not intervene contributed to a toxic environment and that the way to somehow teach a lesson to the bystanders to not be quiet is to cancel the rest of the season.

    I repeat that this is simply a guess and nothing more. I could be way off on the facts.
    But it must involve the core of the team in some way.

  • Joe

    From the article: “We make clear to all of our student-athletes that they represent Princeton University at all times, on and off the playing surface and in and out of season, and we expect appropriate, respectful conduct from them at all times,” Samaan said in a statement a week ago. end quote

    The scholars/athletes were well aware of the rules of conduct, so they have nothing to complain about. My only question would be: was every member of the swim team involved? Was it 100%, 99%, or 94% involved, etc.? I would assume 100% since the whole team is being punished.

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