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Editorial: Weitzell details tough to stomach

By TNH Editorial Staff

The details revealed in the findings of the Scott Weitzell investigation published Friday are gross, disturbing and deplorable. In the fall of 2011, scandal of the sexual nature poured out of State College, Pennsylvania and shocked the nation. While that may have been on a different scale involving young children, never did we think a similar occurrence could take place here in Durham.

This will be difficult for UNH to put behind, but it must move forward and develop stronger practices in reporting that will prevent such perverts such from entering our community. The accusations surrounding Weitzell are disgusting and tragic. Students depend on university faculty and staff to guide them through college life and one parasite such as Weitzell is capable of destroying that college experience.

As the report indicates, the most important responsibility for UNH at this point is to reevaluate its reporting practices. In this case, no finger can be pointed at the responsible individual who should have reported this. Sure, it is easy to suggest Meg Lesnikowski should have immediately taken the information to her superiors when the players disclosed their theories with her. But her training was apparently inadequate and that is the fault of the university. Perhaps that is why the students decided to bring the information to her. Clearly, they had a desire to share the information with someone involved in the program besides other students and teammates, but didn’t want the notions to spread from there.

According to the report, Weitzell was allegedly taking still photos and videos of student-athletes in the men’s locker rooms over a span of four years form 2010 to 2014. We may never know how many players he violated with his clandestine practices in that time. But the activity goes beyond images. The report tells us Weitzell allegedly hosted players in his hotel rooms and touched them inappropriately. Whispers of Weitzell’s “creepy” acts and suspicions around the locker room and on the team bus grew to be commonplace, but still went unreported.

How could this have gone unnoticed by coaches, team administrators and trainers for so long? Of course players would notice; they were directly involved. But team personnel are just as involved with the daily happenings of the team and should keep their ears open to conversations happening around the players. If Weitzell’s suspicious behavior was as commonly recognized and discussed by the players as the report indicates, it is difficult to understand how team personnel failed to catch wind of this sooner. In the report, one player says he was given a warning to “watch out” for Weitzell.

It was no secret Weitzell developed close relationships with players that were seen as a mentorship and of a healthy nature. Some players developed relationships with him “that they valued.” But while he had this kind of reputation with one group, it made it all the easier to violate that trust with another group.

The investigation itself is a positive indication of how the university is dealing with this case. University President Mark Huddleston shared the 68-page report on Twitter and wrote in a following Tweet, “It is my responsibility, and that of everyone at @UofNH, to ensure the safety of our students.”

We would also like to share a message from UNH SHARRP urging anyone with distress triggered by the details in the report to contact the 24/7 helpline at 603-862-7233.

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