Campus reacts to suspension of WKU swim and dive programs
BOWLING GREEN, KY (WAVE) - After a months-long investigation into a hazing scandal Western Kentucky University was rocked by the announcement that the swim and dive program had been suspended for five years.
Pictures on the swim and dive team's Facebook page shows members huddled together during a match. But now, the team is torn apart in the wake of a hazing scandal.
[RELATED STORY: 'Disappointing conduct' prompts immediate 5-year suspension for WKU swimming, diving]
"I was kind of surprised, but you never really know what's going on behind closed doors sometimes," said Marcus Ward, a member of the WKU football team.
The university, the NCAA and Bowling Green Police joined forces after a swim team member filed a complaint. In it the all-star athlete claims that he was assaulted, threatened, forced to drink alcohol and was humiliated for months. Police found evidence of marijuana, alcohol and poster boards with pictures of naked team members at a fraternity house. One of the pictures was marked with a racial slur.
The police department has now closed their investigation resulting in one male swimmer being charged with drug possession and paraphernalia.
"I don't agree with it, but some organizations do. I've never been a part of an organization that has it," said Marquez Pride, another WKU football player.
WKU said the positions of three coaches will be terminated as of June 30 after allegations that they knew of the hazing. Bruce Marchionda, the swim team's head coach, had been there for 13 seasons and helped train Clair Donahue, an Olympic medal winner.
Donahue tweeted, "Get off the airplane and hear the news. I am so upset for my team. My heart goes out to these 50 kids. Family no matter what."
Dr. Gary Ransdell, president of WKU, made the announcement Tuesday morning to the team and coaching staff. The school's Director of Athletics, Todd Stewart said in a statement, "This is a very difficult and unfortunate decision on many levels. While many in the program have represented WKU with distinction, the overall findings of a consistent pattern of disappointing conduct is troubling and not acceptable at WKU."
Some team members took to twitter to show their support. "Once a swimmer, always a swimmer," one team members posted.
"It's hard to hear because I know some people on the team and I can feel for those people," Ward said.
"I just feel really sorry for them," Pride stated.
We did reach out to WKU for an on camera interview but they declined.
Police were not able to bring charges in relation to the pictures on the poster board recovered as evidence because the identities of those involved have not been confirmed. More charges could be filed in the future if new evidence is obtained.
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