York College wrestlers past and present were critical of the administration's interim suspension of the program during a recent hazing investigation.

They said the action gave a black eye to a nationally recognized team that has produced numerous all-Americans.

While we understand their dismay -- and don't dispute the individual and group achievements -- we think it's important to remember one thing:

This was never about athletics.

Hazing -- harassing, embarrassing or belittling new team members under the guise of "initiation" -- is abuse, plain and simple. And it has no place on the field, court or mat.

Perhaps years ago officials might have turned blind eyes toward the practice, but not anymore.

Schools, colleges and even professional teams refuse to tolerate hazing and are prepared to take swift action if they get wind of it.

Earlier this year, Dallastown Area High School's wrestling coach resigned after police charged him with summary disorderly conduct for allegedly encouraging wrestlers to hit a fellow team member.

Superintendent Ronald Dyer said the district took the allegations very seriously, conducted an internal investigation and cooperated with the police investigation.

"We do not condone hazing, we do not condone bullying," he said at the time. "We are trying to handle this in a prudent, balanced, yet firm way. ... We do not want to have situations where children do not feel safe. That has to be rectified."


Officials have good reason to take a zero-tolerance approach to hazing, as cases across the country show the physical and emotional abuse can turn deadly.

The New York Times reports 104 hazing deaths since 1970.

One recent case involved a Florida A&M marching band member who died in 2012 after a beating during a hazing ritual. Twelve former students were charged with manslaughter in Robert Champion Jr.'s death and the band was suspended for a season.

More recently, the Miami Dolphins suspended guard Richie Incognito this month after allegations his bullying caused former teammate Jonathon Martin to leave the Dolphins. The NFL is investigating.

Against this backdrop, the York College administration's actions were completely appropriate.

It placed the entire team on an interim suspension while it investigated the anonymous allegations, which, we now know, involved incidents of physical assault occurring off campus during September and October.

The 10-day probe ended with 34 of the team's 40 wrestlers accused of violating the Student Code of Conduct and the Student-Athlete Code of Conduct, including the college's anti-hazing policy. They were brought before an administrative judicial board, which meted out punishments ranging from official warnings to expulsion.

Not all of the 34 were found responsible and sanctioned, although the school would not say how many were cleared.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act protects against the release of information identifying students who were disciplined or specifying what their discipline was.

The suspension was lifted, but the entire wrestling program was placed on disciplinary probation through the 2013-14 academic year, during which time the team will be required to perform community service.

Could the college have been more transparent during and after the investigation? Yes, and hopefully the administration will be more forthcoming with details about the allegations -- as well as how many athletes did not participate in the hazing.

It might also consider identifying these athletes, who, after all, showed a maturity many of their teammates apparently lacked.

Just as bad behavior should be condemned, shouldn't those who use good judgment be lauded?