Chadron State expels three wrestlers for teammate hazing

Three Chadron State College wrestlers -- two who were 2017 conference champions -- were expelled from the school this week for their role in a team hazing initiation ritual last month, The Eagle student newspaper reported Thursday.

Earlier, it had been reported that four CSC wrestlers had been booted from the team for their involvement in the hazing which took place Sept. 9.

The three expelled wrestlers are Chance Helmick, and brothers Cooper Cogdill and Willy Cogdill.

Malinda Linegar, director of institutional research, confirmed to The Eagle on Thursday that the three "are now no longer enrolled" at the western Nebraska school.

A fourth wrestler who had been kicked off the team, Luke Zeiger, was still enrolled as of Thursday.

The biographies of all four former CSC wrestlers have been removed from the official team website.

The Eagle posted a brief, six-second video of the initiation rite to accompany its news story reporting the expulsion of the three CSC wrestlers. The video shows an unidentified male taking a drink, then taking a punch in the face by Helmick. After receiving the blow, the victim raised his arms in celebration while a crowd cheered.

"We had some team rules that were broken," CSC head wrestling coach Brett Hunter said. "We handled it internally and that is all I am going to say right now."

Two of the former CSC wrestlers -- Chance Helmick, and Cooper Cogdill -- won RMAC conference titles at 174 pounds and heavyweight, respectively. By placing third at the conference championships, Helmick qualified to participate at the 2017 NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships.

Helmick, a junior at Chadron State, had been a two-time Nebraska high school state champion wrestler for Beatrice High School. Cooper Cogdill, a junior from Chadron, Neb. had been a state tournament finalist. Cooper's brother Willy, a sophomore who had wrestled at 184, transferred to CSC after one year at the University of Wyoming.

After the expulsions of the three student-athletes was revealed, Alex Helmbrecht, director of college relations, said, "The safety and well-being of our students is our top priority and Chadron State College remains committed to providing a supportive learning environment for all. The behavior that was exhibited by members of the wrestling team is not tolerated. The student-athletes violated Chadron State College and Nebraska State College System (NSCS) Board of Trustees' policies, team rules, and the directions of the coach."

The NSCS Board Policy 3100 describes hazing as "any activity by which a person intentionally or recklessly endangers the physical or mental health or safety of an individual for the purpose of initiation into, admission into, affiliation with, or continued membership with any organization."

The policy also states that "consent of the victim of the hazing will not constitute a defense to an allegation of misconduct for hazing."

In addition to the school's own investigation, the Chadron Police Department is conducting an independent, criminal investigation which remains ongoing.

Chadron State College is a four-year state school located in the western panhandle of Nebraska. Founded in 1911, Chadron State has an enrollment of 3,000 students. Its sports programs -- including the wrestling team -- compete in NCAA Division II.

UPDATE 10/16/17

The four former CSC wrestlers have been arrested.


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