Columbia University halts wrestling program amid investigation into lewd texts

The Columbia campus. The alleged messages were captured on screengrabs and published on a student-run website.

Story highlights

  • Columbia University has opened an investigation into its wrestling team over alleged lewd group messages and texts
  • The university said the team will not compete until it has a "full understanding of the facts"

(CNN)Columbia University has put its wrestling program on hold amidst allegations that several members of the team sent lewd and racist group messages and texts.

The university said in a statement that it has launched an investigation and that wrestlers will not compete until the school has "a full understanding of the facts on which to base the official response to this disturbing matter."
    The team's next scheduled meet is at the New York State Championships in Ithaca, New York, on Sunday.
    "Columbia University has zero tolerance in its athletics programs for the group messaging and texts sent by several members of the men's varsity wrestling team," the university said in the statement. "They are appalling, at odds with the core values of the University, and violate team guidelines."
    The alleged messages were captured on screengrabs and published on Bwog.com, an independent student-run campus website. According to the site, some of the messages are recent and others go back as far as 2014. The alleged messages included homophobic and racial slurs as well as crude sexual comments about women.
    An online petition urging Columbia President Lee Bollinger to expel team members from the university had received more than 970 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon.
    This is the second such incident this month involving an Ivy League school sports team. Harvard University canceled the remainder of its men's soccer season after players reportedly used sexually explicit terms to rank women's soccer players' physical appearance.
    The "scouting report" evaluated freshmen female soccer players on their looks and sex appeal with numerical scores and offensive descriptions, according to a Harvard Crimson report about the discovery of such a document from 2012.
    The report prompted a university investigation, which found that the practice was "widespread across the team" and continued into the 2016 season, Harvard Athletics Director Bob Scalise said in an email to student athletes.
    Harvard was scheduled to play two more regular season games. It also forfeited any opportunity to vie for the Ivy League championship or to compete in the NCAA tournament.
    "We are beyond disappointed that our season has ended in this way, but we respect the decision made by our administration," Harvard men's soccer coach Pieter Lehrer said. "Actions have consequences, and character counts. We accept responsibility for our actions, and I know that we will use the experience of this terribly unfortunate situation to be better."