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Columbia University suspends wrestlers over lewd, racist texts

By Allen Cone
Columbia University suspends wrestlers over lewd, racist texts
The Columbia University wrestling team competes in the University (Blue) Gym in New York. Columbia University has suspended several team members after an investigaiton of text messages allegedly sent by members of the team that made racial and homophobic slurs. Photo courtesy Columbia University

NEW YORK, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- Columbia University has suspended a "distinct group" of students from the wrestling team after they sent each other lewd and racist texts in group messages.

Last week, the team's season was suspended amid a school administration investigation.

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"Those responsible for the offensive statements in the group chat have lost the privilege to represent Columbia University in intercollegiate athletics competition," the school said in a statement Friday after concluding its investigation.

Bwog.com, an independent student-run campus website, posted screen grabs of the alleged messages that were recent and others going back to 2014. They included alleged homophobic and racial slurs as well as crude sexual comments about women.

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Bwog posted a letter of apology from the team, addressed to "the Columbia community."

"All of us apologize, without reservation or condition, to all members of the Columbia community for the creation and dissemination of the inappropriate, vulgar and hurtful text messages which have affected so many members of our community and the overall University," the team wrote.

The letter continued: "There is no excuse for this behavior. All of us have gained an entirely new perspective on how hurtful the comments made by members of our team truly are. These messages are not just words or playful jokes between teammates. This has been a wake-up call for our team. A culture change was obviously needed -- and, rest assured, it will take place."

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Some team members are suspended through the rest of the season and 2016-17 academic year and others until the beginning of the spring 2017 semester.

"We sincerely hope these disciplinary actions and ongoing commitments will help Columbia wrestling and all of Columbia's athletics programs set an example that makes our University proud," the school wrote in its statement.

Members of the wrestling team found to be uninvolved in the messages were cleared for competition, including at this weekend's New York State Championships in Ithaca, N.Y.

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Before the start of each competition season: "Columbia Athletics shares with its teams a code of conduct, outlining our expectations for individual and team behavior. The messages are appalling and violate team guidelines," the school said in the statement.

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