St. Joseph's University is investigating allegations that members of the women's varsity softball team engaged in hazing or bullying of younger members, reportedly involving alcohol and sexual improprieties.
A source familiar with the allegations confirmed that four students on the Division I team had been suspended, and that the team's bus, bound for Virginia, was delayed several hours Thursday afternoon as students were questioned.
The source declined to describe the alleged hazing, but said it occurred off campus in the fall and was revealed a week ago when a parent and a student came forward.
A recent graduate of St. Joseph's and a former member of the Hawks softball team said the allegations blew her away. "I was never forced to do anything, nor did I force anyone to do anything," she said of her time on the team. "Mostly everybody [that] I was in association with for four years on the team . . . had a good heart and a good mind." The woman spoke on condition of anonymity.
Current members of the softball team did not respond to requests for comment by Friday evening. According to the university's athletics Web page, they played two games Friday against George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., and had a third scheduled Saturday. George Mason won the first game 4-2; St. Joseph's won the second, 7-4.
The university released a statement Friday saying the school was aware of the allegations.
"SJU has responded via applicable Community Standards procedures for investigating such allegations and, if warranted, determining disciplinary action," spokesman Joseph Lunardi said in the statement.
"While its investigation of the matter is ongoing, remedial actions have already been taken to assure the welfare and educational environment for all involved."
The allegations were first reported by 6ABC. The station, citing sources, said "students being initiated had to consume alcohol, perform acts involving inappropriate touching, perform lap dances for upperclassmen on the team, mimic various sex acts, and other allegations too graphic to be outlined."
In response to some of the allegations, the former softball team member said, "I know for a fact nobody was forced to consume alcohol." She said she could not comment on any of the other allegations.
"It's just difficult to imagine anything like that taking place," she said.
The St. Joseph's men's basketball team recently drew criticism for antigay comments posted by a player on social media.