CSC expels 3 wrestlers
(This is an updated version of The Eagle’s Oct. 5 print edition)
Sometime between Wednesday and Thursday mornings, CSC expelled three of the four wrestlers who were kicked off the team last week for their role in a hazing initiation ritual, Saturday Sept. 9.
Official word came early today, roughly 12 hours after The Eagle went to press Wednesday, with a story confirming the four were kicked off the team, but still enrolled.
In an email time-stamped at 9:05 a.m., today, Malinda Linegar, director of institutional research, confirmed that Chance Helmick, junior of Hickman; and brothers Cooper and Willy Cogdill, junior and sophomore respectively, both of Chadron, “are now no longer enrolled.”
A fourth student who was also kicked off the team, Luke Zeiger, junior of Glasgow, Montana, is still enrolled as of 2:08 p.m. today. It is unclear whether he faces the same fate.
Helmick, at the 174-pound weight class, and Cooper at heavyweight, won the RMAC championships in their respective weight classes last season. Helmick also qualified for the national tournament after placing third at regionals.
“We had some team rules that were broken,” Wrestling Head Coach Brett Hunter said. “We handled it internally and that is all I am going to say right now.”
Messages to the four individuals seeking comment about their dismissal from the team went unanswered before press time, Wednesday.
The Eagle obtained a short video of the ritual that was nearly identical to one posted on Snapchat and later removed the same night of the incident. The video shows a male taking a drink, then taking a punch in the face from Helmick. After the punch, the unidentified male who was punched, raised his arms in celebration while a crowd cheered.
On Wednesday, Sept. 13. CSC President Randy Rhine issued a campus-wide email condemning the actions.
“Let me be clear: This type of behavior will not be tolerated at Chadron State College. Appropriate disciplinary action will be imposed on the students involved if they are found to be at fault,” Rhine said in the release.
On Wednesday afternoon, Rhine declined to comment further.
The four were removed from the wrestling roster on CSC’s athletic website at least as of Friday. Since then, The Eagle received several unconfirmed reports from different sources that the four had been expelled.
In an email time-stamped at 8:07 a.m. Wednesday, Linegar confirmed that “all four of those students are still enrolled.”
The four students were also listed in updated directory information Linegar sent to The Eagle Wednesday morning. Roughly 24 hours later, The Eagle received confirmation that three of the four had been expelled.
Tuesday afternoon Alex Helmbrecht, director of college relations, reiterated Rhine’s initial statement issued Wednesday, Sept. 13.
“The safety and well-being of our students is our top priority and Chadron State College remains committed to providing a supportive learning environment for all,” Helmbrecht said in an email Tuesday afternoon. “The behavior that was exhibited by members of the wrestling team is not tolerated. The student-athletes violated Chadron State College and Nebraska State College System Board of Trustees’ policies, team rules, and the directions of the coach.”
Hazing falls under misconduct in the NSCS Board Policy 3100, and that an offending student or student organization may be subject to disciplinary action.
“Hazing shall mean any activity by which a person intentionally or recklessly endangers the physical or mental health or safety of an individual for the purpose of initiation into, admission into, affiliation with, or continued membership with any organization,” according to Board Policy 3100.
The policy also states that “consent of the victim of the hazing will not constitute a defense to an allegation of misconduct for hazing.”
In addition to CSC’s investigation, the Chadron Police Department is conducting an independent, criminal investigation. CPD Police Chief Tim Lordino said Tuesday that the investigation is still ongoing.