The Dalhousie University women's hockey team has forfeited the rest of the season after most of its members were suspended following an investigation into a hazing incident involving rookie members of the team.
Charles Crosby, a spokesman for the Halifax university, said 19 of the 24 players on the team were suspended for the season after an investigation into the September hazing. The investigation was carried out by the vice-president of student services.
With only five players remaining — all first-year players — it was impossible to put together a team for the rest of the season.
Crosby said the investigation began after the parent of a first-year athlete approached the team's coach with concerns about the treatment of new players at a private house party.
"Early in the school year, we got word there was an incident at a party involving the women's hockey team and it appears to have been a hazing incident. So there was an investigation that was carried out and we interviewed the team," he told CBC News on Thursday.
Crosby said the hazing claims turned out to be true and involved "humiliation, intimidation and excessive drinking."
He would not elaborate on the specifics of what occurred and would only say many of the team's players were "put in harm's way" both physically and psychologically.
Captains relieved of positions
Tom Traves, the president of Dalhousie University, made the final call on the suspensions and the players were notified Thursday afternoon. The suspensions are effective immediately.
"The captains will be immediately relieved of their positions as of today," said Crosby.
"All of the players except for the first-year players will be suspended for the remainder of the games for the 2012-2013 season. Immediately, there will be reinforced efforts to make sure that the hazing policy is reinforced."
Crosby said the suspended players will not face any academic penalties and will be allowed to try out for the team next season.
The university is also offering counselling services to the team members.
Dalhousie University's Department of Athletics and Recreational Services has a hazing policy that states it "does not condone the hazing or initiation of athletes and students in any form, whether such activities occur on or off the campus of Dalhousie University."
The policy goes on to state that: "Any student athletes, team personnel or coaches encouraging, facilitating or participating in such activities may be subject to disciplinary action including immediate suspension or dismissal from the Dalhousie University varsity program and/or the university."
The Dalhousie Tigers women’s hockey team was scheduled to next play on Saturday in Charlottetown against the University of Prince Edward Island Panthers.