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Suspended swim team drops lawsuit against Boston College

Lawyers for 37 members of the Boston College men’s and women’s swimming and diving team, whose season was indefinitely suspended in September after reports of alleged hazing, said Friday that they have dropped their lawsuit against university trustees and two members of the athletic department.

The decision came one day after Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Diane C. Freniere denied the athletes’ request for a preliminary injunction that would have allowed them to return to competition amid the university’s investigation into the case.

“We are disappointed with the decision as the goal of the swimmers was to practice and compete while the investigation proceeds,” the athletes said via a statement from law firm Nesenoff & Miltenberg. “Because that goal has not been achieved, the swimmers have decided to dismiss the lawsuit. We continue to hope that the school will consider lifting the suspension and alleviating the mental health strain it continues to have on the entire team.”

In her ruling, the judge wrote that the team suspension was not “arbitrary or capricious,” and she noted that upperclassmen repeatedly were warned that hazing was prohibited by team and athletic department rules, as well as state law.

“In 2023,” she wrote, “no college student could be unaware of the dire dangers of hazing.”

The judge noted events that led the university to take action: “Notably on September 3, 2023 Team members conducted a ‘Frosh’ event (an annual tradition on the team) with a series of organized and directed activities for freshmen members involving excessive drinking. Freshmen were instructed to engage in coordinated activities, various drinking games, and binge drinking. The freshmen were given bags to wear around their necks for vomit and a number of them did vomit. Other students passed out. Some older students on the Team instructed the freshmen what to do, while other older students were ‘taking care of’ the freshmen who were sick or otherwise overly intoxicated.”

In a statement Friday, Boston College said it was “pleased that the parents have made the appropriate decision to drop their lawsuit.”

“We hope that they will recognize the seriousness of these hazing allegations and join Boston College in its efforts to eradicate hazing from college sports,” the statement said.

The swimmers and divers filed their lawsuit Oct. 17, saying the university had imposed an unjustified “blanket suspension” and ended the entire team’s season before an investigation into the allegations was finished and before any findings were made. Among the allegations in the suit, the plaintiffs said the university violated its own code of conduct system and deprived athletes of the right to defend themselves. The suit named university trustees, athletic director Blake James and senior associate athletic director Reggie Terry as defendants.

The decision to drop the lawsuit also came two days after the judge had ruled that the athletes would not be permitted to continue to be identified anonymously in the case.

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