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Saturday, January 22, 2022

UC Davis finalizes report of baseball program investigation

The university’s investigation of UC Davis Baseball has concluded violations of hazing and a culture of drinking within the program

By OMAR NAVARRO — sports@theaggie.org

UC Davis released their final report on their investigation into the baseball program on Friday afternoon. After interviewing eight university employees and 13 current/former players the university concluded there was evidence that proved the allegations of hazing and culture of alcohol within the program existed.

“I want to thank the investigators for their focused approach and the witnesses for their cooperation, even while under heightened media scrutiny,” said UC Davis Chancellor Gary May in a statement.  “As I have often stated, the health and wellbeing of our students is our top priority. When allegations of misconduct of any kind are reported, we won’t hesitate to take appropriate action to determine the facts. Let me reiterate, as I stated during the summer, that UC Davis has zero tolerance for hazing.”

In a 113 page report released by the university, they responded to allegations of hazing, allegations of sexual misconduct and allegations of a culture of substance abuse. In relation to the hazing allegations, they found in their interviews a longstanding tradition that involved the initiation of new players. 

In the investigation, they got firshand interviews from people who attended these initiation events from January 2016 to January 2020. There were a multitude of events and challenges for the rookies including “Beer Boxing,” where two players competed head-to-head until one vomited, “Don’t F— Your Brother,” in which the two initiation teams raced to drink a jug of alcohol, among other challenges as well. 

In response to the allegations of sexual misconduct, the university found that older players “made comments that one would reasonably expect to scare the rookies” according to the report. However, the interviews suggest that it was more of a scare tactic and that the rookies knew it was a joke as well. But, the allegations of substance abuse found a culture of drinking within the program, even leading a recruit to leave after a quarter because he felt that the team cared more about partying than baseball. 

The investigation resulted in the resignation of head coach Matt Vaughn after 10 years at the helm. Specifically, they found that Vaughn “failed to take appropriate steps to address a concern brought to his attention about possible hazing involving the baseball team in 2018.” UC Davis will now begin a head coach search to try and find his replacement. 

In addition to this, Intercollegiate Athletics (ICA) implemented new actions for the team for the remainder of this season. Unsupervised team activities on and off-campus are prohibited, a sport administrator will travel with the baseball team and there will be a reduction in the non-conference baseball game schedule for the 2021-2022 season. As a whole, ICA will now have training for all student-athletes in addition to what they already have in regards to their student handbook. They also partnered with RealResponse, a company that provides an anonymous reporting tool for student athletes as an additional channel for students to seek help or share concerns when situations arise. 

“Creating a welcoming and healthy environment for all of our students requires that we provide a safe space for them to come forward and speak confidentially about their concerns,” said UC Davis Director of Athletics Rocko DeLuca in a statement with the release of the report. “We are deeply saddened that students who have been a part of the baseball team experienced events that negatively impacted their health and wellbeing. We appreciate those who reported their concerns as well as those who participated in the investigation. Their actions will help the baseball team create a healthy, supportive culture.” 

This story is developing. Please check back for future updates. 

Written by: Omar Navarro — sports@theaggie.org

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