Yale is supposed to be celebrating its first appearance in the NCAA tournament in 54 years, but controversy over team captain Jack Montague’s expulsion from school last month and the way his teammates handled his departure has divided the campus.
Montague played his last game for the school Feb. 6 and left Yale permanently later in the month. His teammates have shown support for him by holding up four fingers representing his jersey number after clinching the Ivy League title and also wearing T-shirts during pre game warmups with his number and nickname on the back and Yale spelled backwards on the front.
The shirts and public show of support for Montague by his team irked students on campus who responded by hanging up posters around campus with a photo of the team in those T-shirts and the words, “Stop supporting a rapist.” Protests against the basketball team and its support for Montague have increased from there.
The New York Times reported on Wednesday that Montague's departure was in connection to a sexual misconduct accusation and cited two confidential sources. The Associated Press notes, however, that campus and local police do not have any reports or investigations involving Montague.
The team responded to the student protests on Wednesday by issuing an apology.
“Yale Men’s Basketball fully supports a healthy, safe and respectful campus climate where all students can flourish. Our recent actions to show our support for one of our former teammates were not intended to suggest otherwise, but we understand that to many students they did. We apologize for the hurt we have caused and we look forward to learning and growing from these recent incidents. As student representatives of Yale we hope to use our positions on and off the court in a way that can make everyone proud.”
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The school has repeatedly declined comment to the media about Montague and why he left school, citing student privacy under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. That has created a frustrating lack of transparency and few answers for those who want more information before deciding how they feel and how they might choose to respond.
The only person who has commented on the story has been Montague's father, Jim, who told the New Haven Register last week that his son was expelled but did not say why. He characterized the school’s reasons as ‘ridiculous.’
A few days after playing his final game, Montague's name was removed from the team’s official roster, but it remains unclear what, if anything, Yale has done to address whatever necessitated his expulsion and if there are ongoing investigations by the school or law enforcement.
Jim Montague told the New Haven Register he and his son are following advice from their attorney not to comment on the expulsion.
On Wednesday, members of the group Unite Against Sexual Assault Yale held a rally on campus against sexual assault and 450 people reportedly attended with many sharing thoughts by writing them on the ground in chalk. Some were directed at the team.
The Bulldogs will find out Sunday where they will play and who their opponent will be in their first NCAA tournament appearance next week since 1962.
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