New York City’s Columbia University’s wrestling team, which bills itself as the nation’s oldest intercollegiate program, has had its season suspended by the university while officials investigate text messages sent by team members that included the frequent use of racist, misogynistic and homophobic terms.
On Monday, Columbia released a statement saying that the university’s athletic department “has decided that Columbia wrestlers will not compete until we have a full understanding of the facts on which to base the official response to this disturbing matter.”
Columbia withdrew from a meet on Sunday at Binghamton after the university announced it would have “zero tolerance in its athletics programs for the group messaging and texts sent by several members of the men’s varsity wrestling team,” messages that the university described as “appalling.”
Bwog, an independent, student-run Columbia news website was the first to reveal the scandal after publishing screenshots of the offending texts.
One of the texts refers to a student as a “gay fuck,” while another reads, “We got a missing faggot no Jews back at Claremont.”
Another text referred to black staffers at a UPS store and Black Lives Matter protestors as “nigs” or “niggers.”
Misogynistic texts included one that reads “Columbia bitches feel entitled to something when in reality they are all ugly socially awkward cunts.”
On Friday and Saturday, students protested outside the fraternity house of Kappa Delta Rho, which counts wrestlers among its membership. A Change.org petition calling for the expulsion of wrestlers had 875 supporters Monday evening.
Other students were planning to spread fliers throughout campus Monday to “protest the culture that permeates Columbia’s men’s athletics teams,” according to the description of a Facebook group. Almost 500 students were listed as interested in or planning to attend the event.
Columbia’s wrestling coach, Zach Tanelli, and Peter Pilling, the university’s athletic director, have not been available for comment.