The Texas Cowboys – a spirit group known for firing the cannon during Longhorn games – has been suspended for six years by the University of Texas following an investigation into hazing allegations.
UT’s investigation found evidence of coerced, heavy alcohol consumption; sleep deprivation; hitting members with paddle boards; and forcing members to ingest unwanted substances. One years-long tradition reportedly consisted of biting the heads off live hamsters.
The investigation was launched after the school was contacted by the family of Nicholas Cumberland, a junior who died last year from injuries in a rollover accident. The family said the accident followed a night at the Texas Cowboys retreat in Lampasas County.
The group was disbanded in 1995 for five years after hazing was blamed for the death of student Gabe Higgins.
UT alum Robert Reeves, who knew Higgins’ mother, said Cumberland’s death should never have happened.
“The first time it happened? Tragic. Five years' probationary period? OK,” he said. “This? Nah. This organization knew. They have a history of it. Why was this allowed to happen again?”
In a statement, UT Austin President Greg Fenves said there is no place for hazing at the school.
“The mission of this university – to educate, learn, discover and serve – can only be accomplished in an environment where we respect each other," he said. "Where we look after our neighbors, peers and friends.
He noted that an appeals process is underway.
Read UT's report on the investigation below.