Athletic director: Vulgar messages from team members ‘antithetical to the values’ of athletic program

The Princeton men’s swimming and diving season has been canceled following the discovery of “vulgar and offensive” materials that included messages on a University-sponsored team listserv. Athletic Director Mollie Marcoux Samaan ’91 first announced a suspension of the season Dec. 15, and on Dec. 22, she told the team that it will not compete in its remaining meets.

According to a University release, a complaint made last week alerted administrators to content that was “misogynistic and racist in nature,” prompting a review. “The behavior that we have learned about is simply unacceptable,” Samaan said in the release. “It is antithetical to the values of our athletic program and of the University, and will not be tolerated.” 

University spokesman John D. Cramer told The Daily Princetonian that after Samaan and head coach Rob Orr met with the men’s team on Thursday, the athletic director joined coaches of the women’s swimming and diving team to meet with members of the women’s team.

The Prince reported Cramer would not say whether the comments in the complaint were made about members of the women’s team, but according to The New York Times, he confirmed that they were. In an email exchange with PAW, Cramer declined to clarify the discrepancy.

President Eisgruber ’83 said in a statement, “I am deeply disappointed by the behavior of the men’s swim team. I strongly support the decision of our athletic director, Mollie Marcoux Samaan, to suspend a team that has failed to respect the values of this University and the dignity of other students.” He added that he has “asked the athletic department to redouble its efforts to ensure that our teams conduct themselves with the character and ethics that we expect from students representing Princeton University in athletic competition.”

At the time of the suspension the team’s schedule had two regular-season meets remaining in January and February, followed by the Ivy League Championships Feb. 22-25.

The men’s swimming and diving program is the fourth Ivy athletic team to be reprimanded this fall, following similar incidents involving the Harvard men’s soccer and men’s cross country teams and the Columbia wrestling team. The Harvard teams each made lewd documents about members of corresponding women’s teams; officials canceled the final month of its men’s soccer season and placed men’s cross country on probation. Columbia punished wrestlers who had shared racist text messages and cleared the remainder of the team to return to competition in late November.

Princeton men’s swimming and diving was involved in an earlier controversy on campus in 2015, after members of the team performed at a dance event under the name Urban Congo. When fellow students complained that Urban Congo’s performance was demeaning to African and Native American cultures, the group apologized and disbanded.