West Point rugby team benched over improper emails

WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) — The U.S. Military Academy men’s rugby team is temporarily disbanded after cadets forwarded emails that were derogatory to women, a West Point spokesman said Monday.

The 60 cadets on the club-level team violated the academy’s conduct codes through an email chain that included content that was immature, unprofessional, disrespectful and unacceptable, Lt. Col. Webster Wright said.

“It was locker room trash,” said Wright, who would not detail the contents of the emails.

The cadets were required to complete a supervised rehabilitation program. The roughly 15 seniors faced the most severe punishment as leaders on the team, but they were allowed to graduate with the rest of their class last month. Wright said the seniors were busted in rank to cadet private, restricted to post, had privileges taken away and were either marching or going through respect training right up until graduation.

Wright said there were different levels of culpability among the cadets. Under West Point’s strict conduct codes, cadets may be disciplined for receiving an improper email and failing to take action.

Wright said the team will be reinstated only after returning cadets show enough progress in their behavior. He said there was no guarantee it will be this year.

The team was not able to compete in the Collegiate Rugby Championship in Philadelphia this past weekend “due to unforeseen circumstances,” according to its Facebook page.

The rugby investigation was completed in May just as an Army sergeant at West Point was charged with secretly photographing and videotaping at least a dozen women at the prestigious military academy, including in a bathroom. That case came amid an embarrassing series of arrests and incidents of sexual misconduct across the military.

The academy says its rugby investigation didn’t find any evidence of sexual assault or inappropriate pictures of female cadets.

“As soon as the leadership was made aware of it, they worked very quickly the team was immediately suspended,” Wright said.

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