La Salle University has placed its women's soccer team on disciplinary probation through 2020 — including restrictions on competition for the spring season — following an investigation that revealed "nonviolent power differential hazing."
The university did not provide any examples of the hazing it discovered and said no action was taken against any individual.
Former recruit Kayla Miller-People told The Philadelphia Inquirer of the alleged hazing she received when she was a freshman on the team.
#Breaking: La Salle University investigated allegations of hazing stemming from the school’s women’s soccer team. It’s placed the program on disciplinary probation through 2020 as a result. https://t.co/6ESAft6Q79
— The Philadelphia Inquirer (@PhillyInquirer) December 14, 2019
Miller-People said she was a victim of "initiation games," during which, she said, the La Salle freshmen had soccer balls kicked at them from all directions.
"The coach would then yell 'last ball' to the group, signifying the older players be allowed to kick the balls one more time at them," per The Inquirer.
Miller-People also said the upperclassmen would eat first during team meals and leave scraps of food for the freshmen.
In another reported allegation, Miller-People said the older players made the freshmen stay behind to clean the team bus after games and carry equipment bags through the campus by themselves in the dark.
La Salle does have a hazing policy. It says hazing can include "brutality of a mental nature, including activity adversely affecting the mental health or dignity of the individual, sleep deprivation, exclusion from social contact or conduct that could result in extreme embarrassment."
From The Inquirer:
The university investigated allegations of hazing by fellow players and retaliation by Paul Royal, who has been head coach of the women's soccer team for 17 years, according to emails between school officials and Miller-People's family obtained from her father, Alfred Miller.
"The investigation revealed examples of non-violent, power differential hazing," the statement read in part. "While the investigation found no behavior necessitating university disciplinary action against specific individuals, we take very seriously all claims of hazing and other forms of inappropriate behavior."
In a telephone interview Saturday, Dawn Soufleris, La Salle's vice president of student affairs and enrollment management, said there had been "a very comprehensive investigation" after a complaint had been received. There were actually two investigations — by the human resources department, and by the public safety department.
"We have actually always had a zero-tolerance when it comes to hazing," Soufleris said, adding, about the evidence of "power differentials within the team, that's something that was not acceptable."
As a result, La Salle has placed the women's soccer program on disciplinary probation through 2020, the university said. Players will also be required to attend a workshop on respecting their teammates, undergo bystander intervention training, do community service, and have "restrictions on competition" this spring semester, La Salle said.
After Miller brought up his daughter's hazing concerns to La Salle's athletic director, Miller-People was allegedly told by Royal in a meeting that she was no longer a good fit for the team.
She remained on La Salle's official roster for the rest of the season but did not play or practice following the meeting.
After the fall semester ended, Miller-People returned home to northern New Jersey. She is hoping to transfer to Temple University for the spring semester.