Police open probe into alleged Virginia hazing incident
The University of Virginia says there is now an active police investigation to look into harassment and hazing allegations made by former wide receiver Aidan Howard.
Howard filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on Oct. 14 alleging that the school "fostered a culture of bullying, abuse, harassment, and discrimination" and that teammates forced him to fight another player on the team following practice as part of an "initiation."
"The University of Virginia places a high priority on the safety and well-being of every member of its community. Specifically, as it relates to Mr. Howard's legal filing, UVA is conducting a thorough investigation that involves several steps in the fact-finding process," university deputy spokesman Matt Charles told ESPN.com in an email.
There is also a Title IX investigation at the school.
The lawsuit listed teammates Doni Dowling and David Eldridge as defendants. Dowling and Eldridge are both wide receivers on the Cavaliers squad this season.
Virginia's wide receivers coach Marques Hagans, school president Teresa Sullivan, athletic director Craig Littlepage, and graduate assistant Famika Anae are also named as a defendants, but head coach Bronco Mendenhall is not.
According to the lawsuit, Howard says on Aug. 12, Dowling and Eldridge forced him to fight another player and continued their taunting of Howard during practice.
The two players used athletic tape to mark off a fighting area in the locker room and forced Howard and the other unnamed player to enter the ring to "flashing lights, loud music and announcement to simulate a 'prize fight.'"
Howard suffered severe eye injuries and has since transferred to Robert Morris University after being granted a release.
Howard's lawyer C. James Zeszutek says his client has already been interviewed by campus police and provided a statement to authorities late last month.
– Scooby Axson