NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Columbia University announced Friday it members of its wrestling team who participated in group text messaging exchanges laced with racist, sexist and homophobic language have been barred from competing.
The Ivy League school’s athletics department said in a statement that those responsible for the “appalling” messages have been barred from representing Columbia athletics for the rest of the academic year. Other wrestlers have been suspended from the team until the start of the spring semester, although the extent of their involvement was not explained.
Those who were not involved can compete again starting this weekend at the New York State Championships in Itacha, New York.
It’s unclear how many wrestlers have been suspended.
The university announced earlier this week that it had suspended its wrestling season until it completed its investigation.
“It has now been determined that the deeply offensive group messaging and texts were written, sent and viewed by a distinct group within the wrestling team,” Friday’s statement read. “While all team members feel a sense of collective responsibility and regret for what was said and done by some, the investigation found that the individual student-athletes who participated in the group chat acted on their own.
“We recognize that free speech is a core value both of the University community and of our nation. Our students and faculty have the right to express themselves and their views, whether through their public or private communications. However, the group text messages that have been brought to light do not meet the standard of behavior we expect from our student-athletes at Columbia.”
The athletics department noted that it shares its code of conduct with teams before each season.
The messages were first reported by the student-run website Bwog, which posted screen captures.
The texts were sent over the last three years using the app GroupMe, reported Bwog. Many of the messages used the “N” word. Others used a derogatory term for homosexuals. One text exchange, about the school canceling a concert in response to sexual assault allegations, wrote, “I hope someone actually gets sexually assaulted.”
News of the text messages prompted an on-campus protest Monday evening.