UC Davis Investigation Finds Binge Drinking, Hazing Initiation In Baseball Program

UC Davis on Friday announced its investigation into the Aggies baseball program was concluded and it found evidence that for years rookies in the program were subjected to hazing rituals that included binge drinking and strippers. Coach Matt Vaughn resigned as a result of the investigation.

“Head Coach Matt Vaughn failed to take appropriate steps to address a concern brought to his attention about possible hazing involving the baseball team in 2018,” the university stated.

The investigation began in July when UCD suspended the program and placed the coaching staff on administrative leave following allegations of misconduct. The team in October was allowed to resume practice under the direction of an interim coaching staff. Moving forward, UCD will begin a search for a new head coach, while the interim staff remains in place.

The results of the investigation were released Friday in a 34-page report by investigations director Wendy Lilliedoll. The report found that the hazing ritual and initiation events had been a part of the program since at least 2016, and possibly longer. The annual event was held in January, about a month before the start of the season.

The initiation involved a series of binge drinking activities for the team’s newcomers that played out over the course of a day. At the end of the day, “rookies were blindfolded, brought inside, and given lap dances by (redacted) team members,” the report said. “Ultimately, their blindfolds were removed, professional strippers performed lap dances on the rookies, and the returning players welcomed them to the team.”

While the report ruled Vaughn was not aware of the exact nature of the initiation, it found that he had been told in 2018 by a colleague in the department of concerns about drinking and hazing on the baseball team. It also concluded that he did not “take other steps key to a reasonable response,” such as informing his assistant coaches of the allegations or in later seasons clearly outlining UCD policy on hazing and the coaching staff’s expectations.  

In response to the findings of the report – which also investigated allegations of a culture of alcohol and drug use within the program, UCD said it will prohibit all unsupervised team activities on and off-campus and an administrator will travel with the baseball team this spring. Additionally, the Aggies will this season play a reduced non-conference schedule. All UC Davis athletes will be required to take new training intended to prevent hazing.

On the field, the Aggies are coming off a poor season, as they went 14-43 and finished in last place in the Big West at 8-32 in 2021. They lost 10 of their last 11 games and finished with their worst record since 2009.

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