The following is a statement released by the University of Utah rugby team, sent Thursday, April 4, 2013. It is reprinted in its entirety.
Via a letter dated March 28, 2013 and received April 1, 2013, the University of Utah Men’s Rugby team was notified by the office of Campus Recreation Services that it was being expelled from the University of Utah’s Sport Club Program.
While Utah Rugby does not deny an incident involving alcohol which occurred in May 2012, the punishment, effectively spanning four years, is deemed to be excessively harsh and unfair to everyone currently involved in the program.
The University of Utah Men’s rugby program calls for a thorough, independent investigation of the incident, along with a review of and comparison with other incidents of a similar nature and severity involving University of Utah athletes and students.
The University of Utah Men’s rugby program has always strived to provide its student athletes with a positive, team-oriented experience, to learn the skills associated with the game of rugby and to have the opportunity to participate in competition at the highest levels available.
The University of Utah Men’s rugby program has represented the University at national championships , twice finishing as runners-up in 2002 and 2005 and winning a national championship in 2010 in 7’s on national television and is continually recognized as one of the top rugby programs in the country. Also over 30 players have been recognized for their individual talent and represented the University as USA Rugby All-Americans and of those 7 have represented the Men’s National Team.
The University of Utah Men’s rugby program has provided hundreds of hours of service to the community and its members are and have been members and leaders of many other campus organizations, including the student body presidency. The graduation rate of the men’s rugby program’s players rival that of any organization on campus at 97% since 2001.
The University of Utah Men’s rugby program is anxious to come to a just resolution of this matter in a manner that is consistent.
We also hope to work with the University of Utah administrators to resolve this matter. We are appreciative of the past support given to our program and hope to have their continued support as we strive to work through this matter with all parties involved.
As a program that represents one of the country’s greatest universities we are aware of mistakes made by our team and request that penalties and punishments be administered in a measure consistent with the violation.
It’s been the privilege of our program, players and staff to represent the University of Utah. But we feel that punishing an entire team or organization for the actions of one of its members creates an atmosphere of injustice and bias to the rest of the committed student-athletes, which we feel is contrary to the mission of the University.