Track Program Under 2 Investigations

Following public allegations made against the track and field program this week, Georgetown University released a statement detailing an ongoing investigation of inappropriate behavior Friday. The university expressed concern over the misconduct and said that steps will be taken to eliminate this sort of behavior.

“Although not every student-athlete engaged in misconduct, the reported behavior is deeply concerning, inconsistent with the values of the university and does not meet the expectations Georgetown has set for members of its community and for its student-athletes,” the statement said.

A blog post recently published by members of the program raises severe allegations including incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault in the men’s track and field locker room, including a series of “Hoya Snaxa Awards” that are given out to those who are most willing to perform any of a series of acts.

“The ceremony awards members of the men’s team who ‘have distinguished themselves’ over the course of the school year. Members are able to distinguish themselves by performing heinous acts that are sexually disturbing,” the post read.

According to the post, the men’s team sent a video trailer for the “awards” through the Georgetown University email system April 28. The video allegedly included footage of distance runners engaging in sexual activities with each other. In the statement, the university said that they had conducted interviews with those involved in the production of the video.

“The university takes seriously any reports of actions inconsistent with the values of integrity and respect and expects the highest standards of behavior and professionalism from all members of the university community. [The Georgetown University Office of Institutional Diversity Equity and Affirmative Action] will conclude that review in the coming weeks and the University will take appropriate action and make recommendations consistent with the findings of the investigation,” the university’s statement read.

Georgetown’s statement notes that this investigation is separate from a review that is investigating allegations of racial bias within the track program. Another blog post, written by rising junior runner Stefanie Kurgatt, addresses these issues and details a series of grievances against the program, including unfair treatment, racial discrimination and seemingly arbitrary discipline. Kurgatt could not be reached for further comment.

The post questions the ethics of the track and field coaching staff, whom Kurgatt accuses of conspiring to force her off the team by refusing to coach her, citing an irreparable coach-athlete relationship. In addition, Kurgatt states that multiple athletes within the program have been arrested recently, only to be restored to the team’s roster with minimal consequences.

Kurgatt also stated that the coaching staff forced her to run even when she was injured or when it interfered with her class schedule, and accused the coaches of bias against sprinters. Nine Georgetown runners earned All-American honors from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association this year, each of them earning the distinction in an event of 800-meters or longer. Between the men’s and women’s teams, the 57-athlete program has 10 sprinters — with some designated as jumpers, as well.

“[The program’s lack of a full-size track and emphasis on distance running] must mean that the sprinters get their gear last and less of everything. This means that their shoes do not come in on time, and they get used shoes. This means that they are not included in all the team emails,” Kurgatt wrote. “This means that it is okay to tell a black male athlete, ‘You’re black, don’t be a pussy!’ This means that it’s okay for teammates to be left behind on warm-ups, and to be asked if you speak ebonics by your fellow teammates at dinner. This means that you’re not to be invited to all the team events.”

Both blog posts note the extended processes of these investigations, which have each been ongoing for several months. According to the blog post, the first complaint of a hostile environment was filed on February 25. The university did not indicate a concluding date for the investigation at this time.


Editor’s note: The link to the first blog post mention has been removed, as its authorship is currently unverified. A line has been inserted indicating attempts to reach Kurgatt.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.


  1. When I was stillon campus a good buddy of mine who sprinted on the team was without a doubt singled out, harrassed, and ultimately unfairly removed from the team. I did not run in college, but having trained competitively in high school I can say with certainity that the Hoya program is unprofessional at best and could benefit from an overhaul of the coaching staff. Respect to my fellow sprinters.

  2. Jane Hoya says:

    I’m actually disappointed in both the administration and The Hoya for giving such a platform for this kind of slander. These blog posts are a bunch of hearsay put out by someone/ a group of people who seem to have some weird fixation on bringing down the track 7 field/cross country program. There is no substantiated evidence of any kind that points to any real racism or sexual misconduct permitted by the team. I can’t wait to hear the coaches/team response to these blog posts, because as of yet, this article has only served to promote a one sided view of a situation with nothing of substance to go on.

    Now to address some of the points made in the blog post/this article:

    For those unfamiliar with D1 Track & Field and Cross Country, it’s one of the most underfunded sports there is. A fully funded program is allowed to divvy up 12.5 and 18 scholarships for the men & women respectively. There are about 20 events that are competed at the NCAA level in Track & Field, not including the extra relay legs that need to be run, and 7 members of a varsity squad for Cross Country. In case you’re not counting, that adds up to a scarcity of scholarships to go around. Anyone who’s taken a basic economics course (i.e. anyone who’s gone to Georgetown) knows that when there are scarcity of resources, decisions must be made. Georgetown has decided to focus on its distance program for a number of factors: there’s no full-sized outdoor track to budget/space constraints, the cold Northeastern winters make it hard to train sprinters year-round, the lack of a strong football program prevents the track team from scooping up multi-sport athletes, and distance runners are capable of competing in both cross country and track, which provides good value for a program short on resources. Georgetown, like many other D1 programs across the country (Stanford, Wisconsin, Villanova, Colorado etc.) is a distance school.

    To address Ms. Stefanie Kurgatt’s situation, this seems like less an issue of race and more a case where a talented high school runner was unable to make the jump to college. The training load of runners in college is much higher than that of the average high school runner. When making this transition, some runners end up getting injured because they can keep up with the increasing mileage. Ms. Kurgatt seems to be one of these runners, and if you look at her times from college and compare them with her high school times, she clearly hasn’t shown a lot of promise so far at Georgetown. It’s understandable that the coaching staff is focusing on the runners who have shown the ability to thrive in a collegiate program, as due to the financial restraints I discussed previously, the coaches are playing with a very small margin of error when it comes to building a successful team. Many people in similar situations to Ms. Kurgatt, including a number of people I know personally, are both forced to leave the team and often lose their scholarships as well. She should consider herself lucky she’s only dealing with the former and not the latter. Competing in a D1 sport is indeed a privilege, not a right, and you’re going to have a hard time forcing your way onto a team you clearly don’t belong on.

    When it comes to the accusations of racism, this is completely unfounded. Some of the most successful runners currently in the Georgetown program on both the men’s and women’s sides are minorities. They’ve won Big East titles, NCAA titles, achieved All-American status, etc. If the coaching staff and team were actively trying to hold them back because of their race, there’s no way they would have been able to find that kind of success. One of the beauties of track & field and cross-country is that it’s so performance based that there’s very little opportunity for racial bias. Who care the color of your skin if you can run a sub-4 minute mile? Also, what business would the coaching staff have handing out scholarships to minority athletes if they’re just going to conspire for them to fail? That seems like a very illogical, not to mention wasteful, brand of racism.

    Lastly, the Snaxa Awards seem like nothing more than the kind of silly sophomoric humor you’ll find in any college team, organization or random group of college students you’ll find anywhere. Compared to some of the stuff that’s been put on display with regards to hazing in teams and fraternities, the Snaxa Awards seem exceedingly mild.

    • But really says:

      I stopped reading when you referred to DC as suffering from “cold Northeastern winters”

      • Jane Hoya says:

        When you compare it to some of the sprint powerhouses that all just happen to be in the south, yeah, it makes a difference.

        (Also, nevermind the fact that it barely got above 15 degrees the entire month of February this year).

  3. Being on the other side of the world, I feel out of the loop. I don’t even know where to begin.

    While I’m not surprised about the this girls accusations of racism. There are minor issues that occur, but nothing that cant be solved by talking to the coaches collectively. I think the rest of her allegations of being forced to run injured and to miss class are unfounded.

    Having been a minority sprinter on the track team myself, I too felt I was treated differently because I was a minority. Whether, it was being forced to attend mandatory study halls- which all of the minorities on the team had to attend freshman year- or even other minor issues, I can meet Kurgatt halfway on some of her concerns. I can also say I was NEVER slandered in any way.

    I think this girls claims about being made to miss class and run injured is COMPLETELY unfounded.
    First of all, communication with your coaches are key! I was an All American and one of our only male sprinters to consistently make it to NCAA nationals, and I butted heads with the head coach constantly. I often felt he didnt quite know how to communicate with me or some of the other minority sprinters effectively and I didn’t always trust his judgement when it came to workouts because he primarily worked with the distance boys. If I had a problem I would simply talk to my coach and would talk to the Head coach as well. It was a bit awkward and sometimes intimidating, because I didn’t build a close coach athlete relationship with him, but he was always there to listen to you.

    When I got injured at nationals my coaches were the conservative ones. They were the ones who motivated me to be patient and to heal properly. I was the one who was constantly trying to get back on the track as early as I could risking making my injury worse.

    As for being forced to miss classes…
    This girl is an adult. She is given plenty of resources to learn how to manage her time and prioritize. I doubt much has changed in the few years since I’ve graduated. We were constantly reminded we were student-athletes, not athlete-students. We would also have our schedules given to us way ahead of time and gave those schedules to our professors to sign. We then had to turn them in to our academic adviser, who also contacted our professors. Forgive me, but lets call a spade a spade, this allegation is complete BS.
    I can honestly say, despite the minor problems our team had- as do all other track teams. I know because we all talk- my four years running at Georgetown were some of the best years of my life. I still talk about my experiences and stories to this day.

  4. Soprano Moran says:

    These ridiculous antics go on EVERYWHERE! Google Sayreville, NJ high school and how they suspended the football season last year (the 2014 State Champ triple jumper was suspended for the year). They only cease to exist when ONE athlete steps forward and says “no more”. More than likely, neophytes become unwilling participants because they want to fit in. As far as the unfair treatment of sprinters (who in most major programs are African-Americans), analyze the University of Texas program under then head coach Bev Kearney. The mid-distance athletes complained of the SAME exact things. I don’t think this is racism as much as it is biased recruiting in one-dimensional programs. Look at the magnificent job that Oregon has done to balance a distance-ladened program over the past 5-7 years. On a whole, I blame state high school federations for not promoting programs to enhance diversity among events that aren’t particularly indulged in by athletes of color. Let’s take the pole vault for example. At the NCAA, all levels, what are the ratio of black athletes to “other” athletes in that particular event, and why? Sometimes we have to give a better push to promote growth within certain areas of society….

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