Harvard University has suddenly ended its men's soccer season after an investigation found that lewd behavior towards incoming freshman female soccer players continued beyond 2012 and into the 2016 fall season.
Harvard Athletic's Director Robert Scalise said in an email to student athletes that the men's soccer team will forfeit all remaining games and that the athletics department will partner with the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response along with other resources to educate players about the seriousness of the events.
"We strongly believe that this immediate and significant action is absolutely necessary if we are to create an environment of mutual support, respect, and trust among our students and our teams," Scalise said in the email.
The Harvard Crimson discussed last week a document from 2012, referred to as a "scouting report," which men's soccer teammates rated incoming female freshman on their attractiveness and sex appeal. The document was nine pages long and included an evaluation for each woman along with a "sex position" assigned to each, according to the Crimson.
That document was public through Google Groups until recently. After the Crimson article came out, Harvard President Drew Faust ordered the school's Office of the General Counsel to conduct a review. Scalise noted that the practice was found to be more widespread and that current students who participated in "scouting reports" were not immediately transparent with officials.
"I was deeply distressed to learn that the appalling actions of the 2012 men’s soccer team were not isolated to one year or the actions of a few individuals, but appear to have been more wide-spread across the team and have continued beyond 2012, including in the current season," Faust said in a statement.
Pieter Lehrer, the university's men's soccer coach, said in a statement that he was disappointed with how the season had to end, but he respects the decision.
"Actions have consequences, and character counts," he said in a statement. "We accept responsibility for our actions, and I know that we will use the experience of this terribly unfortunate situation to be better."
Though the season was almost over, those consequences include the team losing its shot at an Ivy League championship and the chance to participate in the NCAA Tournament.
"The decision to cancel a season is serious and consequential," Faust said, "and reflects Harvard’s view that both the team’s behavior and the failure to be forthcoming when initially questioned are completely unacceptable, have no place at Harvard, and run counter to the mutual respect that is a core value of our community."
Harvard Dean Rakesh Khurana echoed other officials' statements, calling the 2012 report that sparked the investigation "extremely offensive."
"Such behavior is antithetical to Harvard’s fundamental values," he said in a statement. "It is clear that as individuals, as members of groups, and as a community, we need to do more to ensure that relationships on this campus are built on respect and dignity in all contexts. We cannot be a great college unless we are a good community.”