Harvard women’s hockey team pledges to overhaul its culture after abuse, hazing allegations

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Harvard University has vowed to overhaul the culture of its women’s hockey team after a long-time coach retired amid accusations of abusive behavior that one player compared to a ‘mental health Hunger Games’ in early June.

Katey Stone, 57, stepped down as head coach June 7 after a 29-year tenure that included four national championship appearances, but was eventually dogged by accusations she’d emotionally damaged players.

Multiple outlets have reported on a toxic on and off-ice culture for the program, including allegations that players felt forced to drink and perform ‘sexually-charged role playing’ as part of hazing rituals, according to the Boston Globe.

At practice, players were allegedly forced to do a ‘Naked Skate’ where players were told to dive on the ice in a Superman-pose while completely nude, often leaving skaters with ice burns and bloody nipples, The Athletic reported. 

Athletic Director Erin McDermott announced Wednesday in a statement that the school plans to revamp the culture after Stone’s retirement. 

In a 2020 interview that was published on one of Harvard’s official YouTube channels, Stone paid tribute to promoting a highly competitive atmosphere among her players. ‘Coaching gives me the opportunity to stay competitive… [The players] have no idea what they’re really capable of and if we continue to challenge them on a daily basis, the accomplish so much more. 

Katey Stone, 57, stepped down as head coach June 7 after a 29-year tenure that included four national championship appearances, but was eventually dogged by accusations she'd emotionally damaged players

Katey Stone, 57, stepped down as head coach June 7 after a 29-year tenure that included four national championship appearances, but was eventually dogged by accusations she’d emotionally damaged players

At practice, players were allegedly forced to do a 'Naked Skate' where players were told to dive on the ice in a Superman-pose while completely nude, often leaving skaters with ice burns and bloody nipples, The Athletic reported

At practice, players were allegedly forced to do a ‘Naked Skate’ where players were told to dive on the ice in a Superman-pose while completely nude, often leaving skaters with ice burns and bloody nipples, The Athletic reported 

Harvard University is promising to overhaul the culture of it's women's hockey team after a long-time coach Katey Stone (pictured) retired

Harvard University is promising to overhaul the culture of it’s women’s hockey team after a long-time coach Katey Stone (pictured) retired

‘We now have an opportunity to end team traditions that are harmful to team culture and inconsistent with our community norms,’ she said. 

McDermott did not address any specific allegations, though the school launched an independent inquiry by law firm Jenner & Block earlier this year after reports surfaced. 

No findings of the report have been published yet, despite the New York firm saying it planned to finish by the end of April, according to the Harvard Crimson

However, in her statement, McDermott said they found ‘procedures and communications with student-athletes have led to confusion and frustration among members of our community, and there are areas where we must improve.’

The full report may never be publicized, according to a school spokesperson.

‘Individuals who participated in the review were promised anonymity throughout the process,’ Harvard said in a statement. 

‘Releasing detailed information or documents that were received and reviewed during this work could jeopardize the privacy of those who participated.’ 

New initiatives McDermott promised include annual reminders of how to report improper conduct, instructions on access to mental health services and a new leadership program. 

Athletic Director Erin McDermott announced Wednesday in a statement that the school plans to revamp the culture after Stone's retirement

Athletic Director Erin McDermott announced Wednesday in a statement that the school plans to revamp the culture after Stone’s retirement

Multiple outlets have reported on a toxic on and off-ice culture for the program, including allegations that players felt forced to drink and perform 'sexually-charged role playing' as part of hazing rituals

Multiple outlets have reported on a toxic on and off-ice culture for the program, including allegations that players felt forced to drink and perform ‘sexually-charged role playing’ as part of hazing rituals

At practice, players were allegedly forced to do a 'Naked Skate' where players were told to dive on the ice in a Superman-pose while completely nude, often leaving skaters with ice burns and bloody nipples

At practice, players were allegedly forced to do a ‘Naked Skate’ where players were told to dive on the ice in a Superman-pose while completely nude, often leaving skaters with ice burns and bloody nipples

‘This program will support our collective focus on updating team traditions to align with our values and will help us move forward positively as a community,’ McDermott said. 

Players anonymously told reporters of having to put condoms on bananas, simulate orgasms and perform skits mocking their sexual orientation. 

One former player said she reported the behavior to the administration but never heard back. 

Stone – who coached the silver medal-winning USA women’s hockey team at the 2014 Sochi Olympics – was never directly implicated but former players said she was aware of what was going on and didn’t stop it. 

In addition, the program’s retention rate is one of the worst at Harvard. Only 20 percent of the freshman class stayed at the school last season, well below the rest of the athletic department’s rate of 75 percent. 

Stone - who coached the silver medal-winning USA women's hockey team at the 2014 Sochi Olympics - was never directly implicated but former players said she was aware of what was going on and didn't stop it

Stone – who coached the silver medal-winning USA women’s hockey team at the 2014 Sochi Olympics – was never directly implicated but former players said she was aware of what was going on and didn’t stop it

Stone, who is the fourth-winningest coach in NCAA women's hockey history, has never addressed the allegations

Stone, who is the fourth-winningest coach in NCAA women’s hockey history, has never addressed the allegations

McDermott claimed that the current team ‘has not fostered a culture of hazing’ but the school can do better. 

‘However, it is clear that some traditions in recent years were experienced differently by different people and not all were comfortable with those activities or with expressing concerns relating to the program.’

Stone, who is the fourth-winningest coach in NCAA women’s hockey history, has never addressed the allegations. The school is still searching for a replacement. 

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