Track and Field Sanctioned, Henner Resigns

GUHOYAS.COM Patrick Henner, the director of track and field and cross-country programs, resigned in the wake of announced sanctions against the men's track team.

Patrick Henner, the director of track and field and cross-country programs, resigned in the wake of announced sanctions against the men’s track team.

Georgetown released a statement Friday revealing the results of its two ongoing investigations into the men’s track and field program, finding no evidence of racial bias but confirming multiple reports of hazing and sexual misconduct among members of the men’s track team. Patrick Henner, director of the track and field and cross-country programs, resigned Friday.

Following the investigation, which included over 100 interviews with current and former team members as well as athletic department administrators, the men’s track team will be sanctioned, with penalties including the cancellation of seven weekends of competitions during the 2015-2016 academic year.

“In lieu of competition, student-athletes’ time will be used for reflection and discernment, for mandatory training, and for dedicated efforts to building an inclusive and respectful team culture,” the statement reads.

In a statement released July 17, following the publication of multiple blog posts levying accusations against the program, the university stated that they received reports of misconduct among the men’s track team back in April, and that there was an ongoing investigation into the allegations.

After the thorough investigation, Georgetown confirmed those reports.

“The investigation found that inappropriate locker room behavior and the creation of offensive materials relating to unofficial team events violated the University’s policies regarding sexual misconduct, harassment, non-discrimination, and hazing,” the July 31 statement said.

The Office of Institutional Diversity Equity and Affirmative Action spearheaded the investigation into the allegations of racial bias. The university statement stated that this investigation found no evidence of racial bias in the program. It also emphasized that the investigation was thorough, included dozens of interviews with team members and coaching staff, each of which contributed to the investigation’s understanding of the program. Specifically, the investigation focused on a “systematic review of equity among athletes.” Requests for comment to IDEAA were not returned.

Stefanie Kurgatt, a rising junior and former member of the women’s track team who expressed concerns about racial bias and hostile treatment toward multiple administrators in the athletic department, did not return requests for comment.

While the university statement released today stated that not all members of the team were involved in the misconduct, the men’s locker room will be closed to all members of the team until Director of Athletics Lee Reed has determined that the culture surrounding the program has shifted in a positive direction. If there are any further reports of violated university policies on hazing, harassment and sexual misconduct, the athletes responsible will be “immediately dismissed from the team and may be subject to further disciplinary action.”

According to Director of Sports Information Michael Carey, the NCAA and Big East have not been involved in the investigations, which will only affect regular season play.

“This will not affect anything regarding postseason competition and it was a decision made by Georgetown,” Carey said.

Athletes on social media sites have posted several documents describing the instances of hazing over the past few weeks, and the investigation has gained national attention. The Washington Post, Sports Illustrated and WUSA 9 all published stories shortly after the university’s first statement.

Henner announced his resignation in the wake of these investigations. He had served as an assistant coach for eight years before assuming the director position, which he held for an additional eight years.

“I have always demanded the highest athletic and personal standards for my coaches and student-athletes,” Henner said to GUHoyas. “I regret that some students engaged in behavior that fell short of these expectations. I recognize the university’s need to move forward with a fresh start, and I do not want to be a distraction in that process.”

Henner led the Georgetown women’s cross-country team to a national championship in 2011, and led a total of nine teams to top-10 finishes at the NCAA championships. His teams produced over 150 All-Americans.

Reed noted that the university’s investigations found no evidence of wrongdoing by Henner, and expressed gratitude for Henner’s dedication to the program and the university.

“Coach Henner has been a partner to the University in articulating the expectations that the University has set for our student-athletes,” Reed said in the statement. “We were disappointed that some of our student-athletes did not meet the expectations we have set and we will be working with our coaches to help rebuild our community. Coach Henner expressed to me his belief that this is a time for new leadership in the track program. I respect his decision and the selflessness that he has demonstrated during a difficult time for our track program. It is exemplary of his character and dedication to our student-athletes.”

Reed will evaluate the leadership structure of Georgetown’s track and field program before determining the appropriate course of action.

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One Comment

  1. Good. I think the track program will definitely benefit in the long-run without Henner

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