Updated Nov. 18, 2:57 p.m.
The University will suspend the wrestlers responsible for engaging in a racist and sexually explicit group chat from competition through the 2016-17 season, according to an email obtained by Spectator from Athletic Director Peter Pilling on Friday. The remainder of the team will be allowed to resume its season.
“It has now been determined that the deeply offensive group messaging and texts were written, sent and viewed by a distinct group within the wrestling team,” Pilling wrote. “While all team members feel a sense of collective responsibility and regret for what was said and done by some, the investigation found that the individual student-athletes who participated in the group chat acted on their own.”
Pilling also said that “other individuals” have been suspended from competition until the beginning of the spring semester, but did not disclose the extent of their involvement in the messages.
As of Friday, eight wrestlers—seven seniors and one junior—have been removed from the team’s official roster. Austin Coniker, who originally came to Columbia as part of the class of 2016, is the only senior still listed.
Administrators began an investigation after screenshots of the senior group chat were made public last Thursday evening. While the team had not yet been suspended, the University decided to cancel the team’s matchup with Binghamton last Sunday.
But by Monday, the University announced that it would suspend all team activity until it completed its investigation, as the New York Times first reported.
The messages drew heavy criticism from students, student-athletes, and even those associated with the wrestling program.
Over 80 students and student-athletes protested on Monday evening in the lobby of Dodge Fitness Center and Low Steps, calling on the University to remove the wrestlers involved from the team and demanding that each wrestler issue a public apology.
Former assistant coach Hudson Taylor—the founder of Athlete Ally, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting LGBTQ equality in athletics—also wrote an editorial piece published by Spectator expressing his disappointment with the team’s actions.
Pilling said that Columbia Athletics will be recommitting itself to “promoting a culture of respect and inclusivity” in the wake of the team’s incident.
“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,” Pilling said.
The remainder of the team will return to competition on Nov. 20 in the New York State Championships in Ithaca, NY.