UNM Athletic Director: 'No question this was hazing' in women's soccer incident

Posted at: 08/20/2014 4:29 PM
Updated at: 08/20/2014 10:52 PM
By: Blair Miller, KOB.com

ALBUQUERQUE -- University of New Mexico Athletic Director Paul Krebs said Wednesday "there is no question this was hazing" in regards to the August 17 incident involving the UNM women's soccer team, and that "what [players] were doing was wrong and uncalled for and should never have happened."

"All of our coaches emphasize the aspect of creating leaders and developing team, chemistry and a team bond," Krebs said. "I would tell you, in this particular instance, we failed."

Krebs confirmed the entire women's soccer team was involved in the incident.

"There is no question it was hazing…all of this is wrong," Krebs said. "It's indefensible; there's no way to sugar coat it."

Krebs also said the university is still reviewing the situation and that it would leave the door open for any and all actions.

Krebs said all of the women were going through a hazing education program Wednesday afternoon. They will also have to spend time outside of practice the next two weeks to do a community service project. Krebs said the project cannot be soccer-related.

"When I found out, I was incredibly disappointed and angry in the choices that were being made," women's soccer coach Kit Vela said. "I'm like a surrogate mother to 29 young women, and like any parent, would be very disappointed and angry."

Krebs said the Student Dean would handle any university discipline, and that he had not spoken with APD about any sort of investigation into the delinquency of a minor.

"We're taking it hour by hour and day by day right now," Krebs said.

He did not leave out the possibility of further disciplinary action against the team.

"We probably have not focused enough direct attention on hazing," Krebs said.

He also said a letter had been sent to all UNM student athletes and coaches discussing the subject of hazing.

Coach Vela confirmed two players had left the team, both of whom had been recruited. She said both sides were "saddened" by the situation.

Before the allegations became public Monday morning, UNM picked Breda Bova, a former NCAA representative for UNM before retiring last month, to head up the university's investigation.

Bova said there's no question hazing occurred.

"Regardless of whether they give permission or not, it's still hazing," Bova said.

She also said upperclassmen pressured freshmen into drinking, and was adamant that only one freshman made the claim she was sprayed with urine – all other team members and a witness allegedly say that part of the incident never happened.

"There was no urine; it was some sort of a soapy liquid," Bova said.

She also said that KOB's report on a former women's soccer player being the victim of a similar hazing incident last year was "the first [she] had ever heard about any of the other issues."

The player who alleged urine was sprayed on players has since left the program. Krebs said he confirmed she was the only player who made such allegations through a third party whom he would not identify.