Dalhousie University has suspended nearly all of the members of its women's hockey team – effectively forfeiting the remainder of the season – for taking part in a hazing ritual.
The suspensions were announced on Thursday, bringing an end to an investigation that began in October when a parent of one of the young women who was hazed approached the team's head coach. Although hazing cases involving men's sports teams have been well documented, women's teams have not been immune.
"There were cases of intimidation, excessive drinking, personal disrespect, humiliation – in short, bullying," university spokesman Charles Crosby said in an interview. "It's a clear case of hazing and it's not something that we tolerate at Dalhousie."
Mr. Crosby said the hazing occurred at a house party in September. However, he said he would not disclose what exactly occurred to protect the privacy of the affected players.
Mr. Crosby said it was the first-year players who were hazed, so they were not suspended. But 19 of 24 players were, forcing the team to forfeit the rest of the season.
"What we're hoping next year is that everyone will have learned from this and that in the 2013-2014 season, we have a team that will be that much more welcoming of new players, where intimidation will be a thing of the past," he said.
Mr. Crosby would not comment on whether the coach or any other university employee had been disciplined as a result of the investigation, saying the university does not discuss staff matters. He said the suspended players will not face any academic punishment.
Dalhousie competes in the Atlantic University Sport league, and the women's hockey team was last in its division so far this season. The team had a dozen games remaining.
Phil Currie, executive director of Atlantic University Sport, wrote in an e-mail that the league supports and respects Dalhousie's decision.
"It is always very unfortunate when issues like this arise, certainly when they disrupt the operations of the entire league. That some of these young women will finish their university athletic experience on this note is also regrettable. However, hazing of any kind cannot be tolerated, of which they were all very well aware," Mr. Currie wrote.
He said the league's scheduling committee will meet on Friday to revise the rest of the season.
Mr. Crosby said this is the first time he has heard of a Dalhousie athletic team being involved with hazing. He has been with the university for about a decade, he said.
However, hazing incidents have occurred at other Canadian universities. In September, the Wilfrid Laurier University men's baseball team was suspended over hazing. Details were not released.
In September, the women's volleyball team at the State University of New York at Geneseo was suspended after its first-year players were forced to drink alcohol until some of them vomited. The players were also handcuffed and blindfolded.
In 2009, the women's soccer team at Carleton was suspended for an incident similar to that at Dalhousie, with rookies being hazed at an alcohol-fuelled party.