Amherst College puts men’s lacrosse team on probation, fires coach

AMHERST, Mass. (AP) — Amherst College has placed its men’s lacrosse team on probation and is firing the team’s coach following complaints that players used a racial slur.

Masslive.com reports that the team will be on probation through June 30, 2021, and is barred from meeting for practices or other gatherings until November 2020. The college also announced it is firing Coach Jon Thompson, saying a change of leadership was needed.

Amherst President Biddy Martin said the college will not tolerate a team culture “that repeatedly violates standards of human decency and then protects those who have perpetuated these violations.”

The college’s student newspaper, The Amherst Student, reported that three members of the men’s lacrosse team chanted a racial slur outside a black player’s hotel suite on March 7. The newspaper reported that it followed another incident in which players drew a swastika on an unconscious student’s forehead at a party in December 2018.

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Martin said the lacrosse team has been responsible for other violations in recent years, including vandalism in dorms, and she said players have ridiculed transgender members of the team’s staff.

“These failures have exacerbated the harm to those directly affected and to our broader community, including those alumni who experienced racism and other indignities while at Amherst,” Martin said in a statement.

Team members will also be required to go through an educational program as part of their discipline. The private, liberal arts college enrolls about 1,800 students.

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