UPDATE: Luke Zeiger, 24, Cooper Cogdill, 22, Chance Helmick, 21, and William Cogdill, 21, were all arrested Oct. 13 on suspicion of hazing and third degree assault, both misdemeanor charges. They were booked into the Dawes County Jail, where their bond was set at 10 percent of $10,000 each.
A press release from the Chadron Police Department says its investigation into an alleged hazing incident Sept. 9 in the 800 block of Chadron Avenue lasted four weeks, with the results submitted to Special Prosecutor Jamian Simmons.
ORIGINAL POST: A criminal investigation into an incident of alleged hazing by members of the Chadron State College wrestling team is ongoing, but several wrestlers, including two Chadron natives, appear to have faced internal consequences on campus.
Willy and Cooper Cogdill, a sophomore and a junior of Chadron, Luke Zeiger, a junior from Glasgow, Mont., and Chance Helmick, a junior from Hickman, reportedly have been removed from the wrestling team.
“We had some team rules that were broken,” Wrestling Head Coach Brett Hunter told The Eagle, CSC’s student-run newspaper. “We handled it internally and that is all I am going to say right now.”
The students are also no longer attending the school. Both Director of College Relations Alex Helmbrecht and Director of Institutional Research Melinda Linegar referred to the students as “not enrolled.”
It is unclear exactly what processes were followed that led to their exit. In a phone call with the Record, CSC President Randy Rhine declined to clarify what, if any, difference there is between ‘expelled’ and ‘unenrolled’ and would only say that those involved were “no longer students.”
CSC policy spells out protocols for handling incidents of this nature. If that was followed, the involved students would have been notified in writing of an accusation of misconduct, at which point the students would have the opportunity to admit to the violation and allow the college to take whatever action deemed appropriate; admit to the violation and request a hearing; or deny the violation and be referred to a panel for a hearing.
“We don’t talk about the details of disciplinary action publicly,” Rhine said, referring the Record to the college’s policies and procedures for information on due process.
The CSC Eagle, which broke the story Thursday, obtained a short video of the incident in question. The video, which is available on the Eagle website, depicts a member of the wrestling team consuming a drink, receiving a punch to the face, and then celebrating along with the crowd.
The college’s official statement, emailed to the Record, reads, “The safety and well-being of our students is our top priority and Chadron State College remains committed to providing a supportive learning environment for all. The behavior that was exhibited by members of the wrestling team is not tolerated. The student-athletes violated Chadron State College and Nebraska State College System Board of Trustees’ policies, team rules, and the direction of the coach.”
Rhine reaffirmed that Monday, saying, “We have zero tolerance for behavior of that type,” adding that he hopes there are no further such incidents in the future.
Meanwhile, Chadron Police Chief Tim Lordino confirmed that his department is still investigating the hazing to determine if criminal charges are warranted.
Helmick and Cooper Cogdill won the RMAC championships for their respective weight divisions last year, and Helmick was a national tournament qualifier as well. He finished last season with a 32-6 record.
Cogdill went 70-37 while attending Chadron High School and was a two-time State High School Wrestling Tournament qualifier, taking home a silver medal as a senior. He announced his decision to wrestle at CSC in 2013. He was 27-10 last season for the Eagles.
Willy Cogdill graduated from Chadron High in 2015 after becoming the district’s 21st wrestler to win a state title. He went 37-2 his senior year, pinning his first three opponents at his final state tournament en route to the title. He had 116 high school victories and was 14-16 last season for CSC.