Another Harvard men’s athletics program has been disciplined for creating and maintaining a spreadsheet used to evaluate sexually their female counterparts; unlike the men’s soccer team, the men’s cross country team cooperated with the investigation, leading to a lighter punishment.
Harvard athletic director Robert Scalise announced in a Friday night email that the school has placed its men’s cross country team on athletic probation, according to the Boston Globe. Scalise and the Crimson leadership came to this decision after university lawyers reviewed the team spreadsheet—which was ostensibly to guess who members of the women’s team would ask to a season-ending dance, while also grossly commenting on their physical appearances—and found members of the 2014 cross country team had made “crude and sexualized statements” about the women’s team.
The terms of the probation have not been defined; per the Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper at the forefront of the recent spreadsheet revelations, team captain Brandon Price said the probation shouldn’t interfere with the team’s season or training.
“The probation and training, it means that they’re going to keep a close watch on us and have us go through some training seminars with some Title IX coordinators, and also talk with an outside consultant about just working on our team culture.”
The investigation into the men’s cross country team was made public after The Crimson published texts from the cross country team’s GroupMe in a Nov. 6 article. In the text messages revealed, the current team recalled the nature of derogatory language used to detail the women’s cross country team on the team’s 2012 and 2014 spreadsheets:
“Hahaha dude 2012 was the absolute worst I saw. It got tamer each year after that,” wrote one recent graduate.
“It’s terrible God,” agreed another member of the group, a recent College graduate.
“Also 2014 talked about a specific person getting black dick a lot,” he wrote.
Also included in the 2012 version were “specific comments about girls weight or appearance,” according another text obtained by The Crimson. Price told The Crimson the team no longer engages in activity that appears to have been the norm for the men’s soccer and men’s cross country team just two years ago, claiming the culture has “really changed.”
After the men’s soccer team’s season was cancelled by the university on Nov. 3 for its misogynistic “scouting report” of the women’s soccer team, Price brought this year’s iteration of the spreadsheet to the attention of the team’s head coach, Jason Saretsky. Upon review, the 2016 version of the spreadsheet was clear of the demeaning language found in 2012 and 2014 versions. The team’s light punishment was due in part to this and the fact that Price and the team decided to submit the spreadsheet for review, rather than wait for the school or the student paper to uncover it, per The Crimson:
“We believe the accountability shown by these students, their taking responsibility for past actions and bringing them to our attention, positively contributes to Harvard Athletics’ ability to learn, assess, and improve our culture,” Scalise wrote in the email obtained by The Crimson.
The university has never before placed a team on athletic probation, according to The Crimson’s recent interview with athletic department spokesperson Timothy Williams. It will now bring in an expert to “assess the overall culture of our programs, and to help us identify and develop positive, shared values in all of our teams.”