See the update at the end of this post with a statement from the Scelsi family.
ORIGINAL POST, AUG. 21, 8:46 A.M.: Fraternal twins from Trabuco Canyon have withdrawn from the University of New Mexico after a women’s soccer initiation ritual involving alcohol sent one of the freshmen to the hospital. Campus police were sent to a dormitory Sunday night after Danielle Scelsi reported her 18-year-old sister Devin was having trouble breathing and appeared to be vomiting.
Police discovered two other 18-year-olds in the apartment also appeared to be intoxicated and called in an Albuquerque Fire Department rescue unit, which took Devin Scelsi and another teen to the hospital.
By Tuesday, the Scelsis had quit the team and withdrawn from school. On Wednesday, University of New Mexico Athletic Director Paul Krebs confirmed hazing by the women’s soccer team played a role in the boozy incident.
“In this particular instance involving our women’s soccer program, we failed,” Krebs conceded at a news conference. “Whether it’s coach [Kit] Vela, myself, as a department, we failed the young women in this program, that they didn’t understand and they didn’t know better that what they were doing was simply wrong and uncalled for and should have never happened.”
The team’s season opener in Lubbock, Texas, was canceled and players must participate in a hazing-education class and perform community service, according to Krebs, who added an ongoing investigation could produce more sanctions.
Devin Scelsi, a 5-foot-3 forward, and Danielle, a 5-foot-6 midfielder, played their freshman through junior years for Santa Margarita Catholic High School coach Chuck Morales, whose 2013 team was the California Interscholastic Federation Division II champion.
The twins transferred to Mission Viejo High School for their senior season and graduated as Diablos in June.
Devin’s University of New Mexico bio states that she intends to major in nursing.
UPDATE, AUG. 21, 2:55 P.M.: A friend of the Scelsi family sent the following to the Weekly this afternoon:
Statement on Behalf of the Scelsi Family Regarding Alleged Hazing of their Daughters by University of New Mexico Women’s Soccer Players
Santa Margarita, CA– The Scelsi family responded to media requests regarding the hazing of their daughters by members of the University of New Mexico women’s soccer team. The girls were allegedly forced to consume alcohol and subjected to other demeaning hazing tactics by older players. The girls promptly withdrew from the university and the team following the incident, recognizing that the university climate is not one that is supportive and would allow them to thrive. The incident has prompted additional hazing allegations toward the university–other players and parents have stepped forward indicating a culture of this type of behavior.
The following is a statement from the Scelsi family regarding the incident and asking for privacy as their family heals:
“We respectfully request privacy as our family tries to move on from this incident, and as our daughters attempt to identify the next steps for their collegiate educational and athletic careers. Our daughters were the victims in this case, and we would ask the university to honor our right to privacy. No person should be subjected to the type of abuse, humiliation and degradation that our daughters were forced to endure as they embarked on what should have been a momentous time in their lives. We urge the university to take swift action to end this reprehensible behavior and the culture of shameful hazing that we now know exists.”
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.