‘Zero tolerance’: UC Davis head baseball coach resigns following hazing investigation

Local News

DAVIS, Calif. (KTXL) — UC Davis Head Baseball Coach Matt Vaughn resigned Friday after a report found he failed to properly respond to concerns about the baseball team and hazing in 2018.

UC Davis had suspended its varsity baseball team and placed coaching staff on administrative leave on July 14, but many were left wondering why as they gave no explanation beyond alleged misconduct.

It wasn’t until two days later the university said it was due to “credible allegations of misconduct primarily related to hazing.” The report released Friday details the hazing that occurred.

“It has been a difficult time for the program,” said UC Davis Athletics Director Rocko DeLuca. “We will work through a positive and healing manner.”

According to the report, the baseball team had a tradition of hazing new players each January before the pandemic occurred.

“From 2016 through 2020, the initiation events included a running scavenger hunt between older baseball players’ houses; ‘Beer Boxing,’ in which two players competed head-to-head until one vomited; ‘Don’t F—‘ Your Brother,’ in which the two initiation teams raced to drink a jug of alcohol; a 1 v. 1 tug-of-war, completed while upperclassmen threw and shot things at the competitors … In 2019 and 2020, the initiation also featured two new events — goldfish eating and ‘Century Pong,’ which was an expanded version of beer pong,” the report said.

The report names Vaughn, identified as Coach A, as having known or as someone who should have known about the 2018 hazing allegations due to the evidence they found.

People not related to the baseball team were the ones who had initially raised concerns over hazing. Non-baseball athletes at a dorm had reportedly taken care of a baseball team member who was drunk one night in January of 2018.  A colleague of Vaughn then alerted the coach to the concerns.

However, other students on campus were surprised to learn of the allegations.

“The fact they exist is potentially worrying,” Ben Hassner, a UC Davis student, said. “The fact that he resigned, I think it’s a good sign about the school and community can bounce back and recover.”

The coach, when interviewed, reportedly gave responses that gave the impression he was unaware of what led up to the allegation. He also denied having talked to freshmen, but the report states a series of emails in 2018 between the coach and a school official made it seem like he had spoken to several freshmen following the allegation.

“I met with Coach Vaughn and I accepted his resignation as head baseball coach,” DeLuca said.

The report states that “in or before January 2018, Vaughn knew or should have known about an initiation tradition.” It goes on to state that they did not find evidence to support he would have known specifics.

“When allegations of misconduct of any kind are reported, we won’t hesitate to take appropriate action to determine the facts,” UC Davis Chancellor Gary May said in a statement. “Let me reiterate, as I stated during the summer, that UC Davis has zero tolerance for hazing.”

As a result of the investigation, the baseball team may not have unsupervised team activities. The team will also have a sports administrator travel with them for the rest of the ’21-’22 season, and there will be fewer non-conference games.

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