Harvard Places Men's Cross Country Team On 'Athletic Probation' Following Spreadsheet Probe

A tour group walks on Harvard's campus. (Elise Amendola/AP/File)
A tour group walks on Harvard's campus. (Elise Amendola/AP/File)

Harvard's men's cross country team is now on "athletic probation" after a school review of a 2014 spreadsheet made by the team found it contained "crude and sexualized statements" about members of the women's cross country team.

First reported by the The Harvard Crimson, the school's athletic director, Bob Scalise, sent an email to student-athletes on Friday night announcing the action.

Obtained by WBUR, the email did not define "athletic probation," but Harvard's men's cross country captain Brandon Price told WBUR Saturday that the term means a Title IX coordinator will be checking in with members of the team. Price said the probation will not affect team practices or competitions.

The school said it would have its lawyers investigate the alleged comments in the men's cross country team's 2014 spreadsheet when it first came to light in November.

In his email, Scalise said the lawyers' review determined that, while there were "crude and sexualized statements" in the spreadsheet about past student-athletes, the goal of the document was not "to denigrate or objectify particular women." Instead, the men's team used it to predict who members of the women's team would invite to a Sadie Hawkins-style dance.

Scalise also told students in the email that lawyers did not find any denigrating comments about the women's team in a 2016 spreadsheet from the men's team.

Additionally, Scalise wrote that members of the men's cross country team "were truthful and forthright about shortcomings in the team’s culture" during the investigation and they indicated their commitment to changing the culture at the school. Scalise told students that Harvard's athletic department is continuing to address the reports by creating training programs that reinforce the "positive, shared values" of all the school's teams. Scalise also reminded students that the members of the men's cross country team voluntarily brought the spreadsheets to officials' attention.

This all follows after Harvard's men's soccer season was canceled because of a so-called "scouting report" of female athletes. First created by the 2012 men's soccer team, it was an online spreadsheet that rated players on the women's team by their appearance and sexual appeal. Before having their season canceled, the 2016 men's soccer team was first suspended for the document after the school found the practice had continued into this year.

With reporting from WBUR's Qainat Khan and Bob Shaffer



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