Sam Schaefer is a junior history and public policy major from Chapel Hill.
Saturday evening, when North Carolina’s football team ran roughshod over Liberty, it was easy to get lost in the atmosphere — the smell of delicious, fatty food wafting over the campus, the sea of people dressed in Carolina’s beautiful blue, the excitement of seeing this year’s intriguing team finally take the field after what felt like an interminable wait.
It all made it easy to forget the latest stink of scandal following the team. On Aug. 26, Yahoo Sports reported that during the team’s training camp in early August, an alleged hazing incident escalated into an assault of redshirt freshman Jackson Boyer, who reportedly received a concussion.
Four players were issued one-game suspensions for their involvement in the incident, resulting in their absence from the game against Liberty while the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs’ office conducts an investigation. But barring a decision from the vice chancellor’s office this week, those same four players will be eligible to take the field against San Diego State Saturday night.
A one-game suspension does not seem like an appropriately severe response to what may have been a crime, and the decision to allow the players to participate in team activities while under investigation for violent behavior is disturbing. It sends the message that the school is not taking the incident as seriously as it should.
Furthermore, the wait from the vice chancellor’s office is perplexing. The incident happened weeks ago, and all of the involved parties are students who are in near-constant contact with University employees who could possibly protract further information.
This should not be a far-reaching investigation of the kind that is required by more systemic scandals. A long and drawn-out investigation is unfair to both Boyer and, if the incident was less serious than has been suspected, the implicated players.
If, in fact, the incident in question was a dumb prank that got out of hand and resulted in an accident, then the University should come out and say so as soon as possible. It has nothing to lose when so many will continue to assume the worst.
If it was more serious than that, and the four players violently assaulted their own teammate for refusing to participate in a hazing, then it is highly inappropriate for those players to be contributing to UNC wins.