Harvard men's soccer season canceled for lewd 'scouting report'

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Friday, November 4, 2016

The Harvard men's soccer team will be suspended for the rest of its season after an investigation found the team continually made vulgar and sexual comments about members of the women's soccer team.

The Harvard Crimson student newspaperfirst reported the school's decision.

Athletic director Robert L. Scalise wrote in an email to Harvard student-athletes that he decided to cancel the rest of the team's season because the practice, in which women were rated on their perceived sexual appeal and physical appearance, appeared "to be more widespread across the team and has continued beyond 2012, including in 2016."

"As a direct result of what Harvard Athletics has learned, we have decided to cancel the remainder of the 2016 men's soccer season," Scalise wrote. "The team will forfeit its remaining games and will decline any opportunity to achieve an Ivy League championship or to participate in the NCAA Tournament this year."

On Friday, the men's soccer team issued an apology in The Harvard Crimson.

"We accept responsibility for the mistakes and serious lapses in judgment that have led us here, and, in addition to accepting the sanctions from the Athletic Department, are shifting our focus toward the concrete actions we can take to address the fundamental issue of sexism in our community," the team said in its apology.

The school had been investigating a document that was circulated by the 2012 men's soccer team. The document, which comprised sexual comments about members of the women's soccer team, was uncovered last week by The Harvard Crimson.

University president Drew Faust said in a statement that she "was deeply distressed to learn that the appalling actions of the 2012 men's soccer team were not isolated to one year or the actions of a few individuals."

"The decision to cancel a season is serious and consequential, and reflects Harvard's view that both the team's behavior and the failure to be forthcoming when initially questioned are completely unacceptable, have no place at Harvard, and run counter to the mutual respect that is a core value of our community," Faust wrote.

Rakesh Khurana, the dean of Harvard, released a statement Thursday evening saying he was "saddened and disappointed to learn that the extremely offensive 'scouting report' produced by the 2012 men's soccer team continued through the current season."

The document rated the attractiveness of recruits on the women's team and included lewd comments about them. Members of the men's team called it their "scouting report" and circulated it online.

Faust said the review is separate from any action by the school's Title IX office, which investigates complaints of sexual assault and harassment.

Earlier this week, members of the women's team penned a letter in the Crimson criticizing the document, saying they were "appalledthat female athletes who are told to feel empowered and proud of their abilities are so regularly reduced to a physical appearance." The letter also expressed hope that the report would "lead to productive conversation and action on Harvard's campus, within collegiate athletic teams across the country, and into the locker room that is our world."

The men's team is in first place in the Ivy League. It will forfeit its remaining games and decline any opportunity for postseason play.A win against Columbia on Saturday would have clinched an automatic NCAA bid for Harvard.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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