A former Drury University swimmer alleges that his athletic career ended after a hazing incident back when he was a freshman in the fall of 2015. Evan Petrich came forward last week and talked about the hazing which allegedly included being locked in a basement wearing nothing but a diaper, being forced to chug a glass of water with a live goldfish and being surrounded by teammates with vomit and urine on the floor. They were also hit with dodgeballs while naked, forced to watch porno movies and some of the others were forced to drink alcohol. After a school investigation, several of the swimmers were fined $300 suspended from three meets and given community service.
In a news conference Monday, Athletics Director Mark Fisher says the school in Springfield has toughened its policies in response to the hazing.
“Anytime we have an issue with hazing, it’s disappointing,” Fisher said. “We want to make sure we uphold our students’ dignity, and we protect them. We have to make sure that as leaders on this campus, we do everything that we can to ensure that it doesn’t happen, not only of our students, our student-athletes, and then also our coaches and those involved within in the program.”
The school investigated the claims after Petrich complained last year but the allegations didn’t become public until last week. There was also another incident of a hazing case in 2009 and at the time, the team was punished by having a Hawaiian trip taken away from them. Brian Reynolds is the head coach for the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams at the Drury. This is his 34th year. He has led the school’s programs to a combined 33 national championships.
Petrich first exposed the school publicly with a post that appeared on his Facebook page. That post is below:
It was September 2015, all I wanted to do was prove that I could be a part of a team. My dream as child a growing up was to lead the Drury swim team to victory. I never thought it would be the team itself that would prevent me from reaching this goal. Towards the end of September my freshman year the male freshmen were informed that we would have to go through an initiation week. It all started off simple and nothing major that would have any lasting effects on any of us. Though as the week wore on the events we had to do became weirder and more damaging all leading up to a final night that Saturday. They said it was optional but when I skipped events throughout the week I was chastised by upperclassmen. I did not want to do this. I was warned though that if I didn’t fully participate in these activities I would never fully be accepted by the team. I would never learn the provocative and profanity filled team motto. I do not know if I can ever forget the events and activities that I was forced to participate in. Having dodgeballs thrown at my exposed bottom, or being terrified in a cold, dark basement corner surrounded by my drunk classmates who had covered the floor with throw up and urine while punching holes in the wall and ceiling. All I had to protect me was the diaper and shoes that the upper classmen were gracious enough to allow us to keep on. This event is in past. The violent chest rub, the swallowing of a live goldfish while we wore hoods is all in the past. There is nothing that I can do about that horrific event that ended my swimming career.
Roughly six months later and countless doctor visits and medical tests and procedures I was finally diagnosed with Conversion Disorder as the reason for the chest pain that ended my swimming career. I was asked to increase my anti-depressant and get in touch with a psychologist. Talking with the psychologist I was then also diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. I never thought that my own team, my hopes, and dreams would betray me and perform these actions that would cause me to experience these mental disorders.
I decided then to come forward about my experience to the school. At first I talked to the head coach who then just told the captains and then when he did finally meet with me all he did was tell me that it was essentially my fault for letting it bother me. (I didn’t realize I had a choice in the matter of whether or not I ended up with PTSD of Conversion disorder). He also failed his duty as a mandatory reporter. I knew he wouldn’t do anything so the following day I began talking to the dean of students. I went into this thinking that Drury would actually do something substantial to end the issue right then and there. Especially when their investigation only proved my story completely beyond any doubt. Yet when I found out that the punishment would be the bare minimum that the school would be required to do I was heartbroken. I would spend the rest of my semester scheduling meetings with the people who had the final say in the decision only to discover that they would try to twist my words and again just re-victimize me. It turns out that while I was trying to appeal the decision within the school that the statute of limitations for hazing under Missouri Law would expire. The interesting thing is that the punishment this time had less of an impact than the hazing case in 2009 when the precious Hawaii trip was taken away and in that case the school found out by accident there was no injured party that was forced to leave his greatest hopes and dreams behind and would more than likely never swim for a collegiate team ever again. While their punishment barely lasted a couple of months and they are currently enjoying the sun in Hawaii that I have been told is great this time of year.