AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - Word of the suspension quickly spread across campus.
At the alumni center, where a pavilion is named in honor of the Texas Cowboys, some students gave a quick glance at the small cannon on display while others quickly walked by on the way to class.
A few offered their thoughts about the organization getting kicked off campus for 6 years. "I don’t think it should take a student dying for them to realize what they are doing is wrong,” said U.T. student Jahzeel Franco.
The suspension comes after the death of a new Texas Cowboy member; 20-year-old Nicholas Cumberland. He was killed last fall in a car wreck after attending a new member retreat.
In announcing the suspension, U.T. Officials released an investigation that concluded:
"New members of the Cowboys were subjected to multiple forms of hazing, including physical brutality, physical activity, forced ingestion of unwanted substances, coerced consumption of alcohol, and degradation"
One of the most troubling acts cited by the university involved the killing of a hamster.
"That seems to be an awful form of hazing,” said U.T. student Alexandria Rena.
In a facebook post, Cumberland's father stated the suspension didn’t "reduce the pain of our family.” He also stated that the family was joining others “to help prevent hazing and the resulting negative consequences."
The Texas Cowboys are best known for firing a cannon during UT home football games. It was founded in the 1920’s as a campus service organization. In a statement sent to FOX 7 a spokesperson for the Texas Cowboys Alumni Association said: "We are disappointed by the University's decision today, and are saddened that it may prevent our organization from continuing this legacy of service."
The spokesperson went on to state that the Texas Cowboys were disappointed those involved in the misconduct. They also expelled and suspended those connected to the hazing. The organization also tried to distance itself from why U.T. launched the investigation. It was claimed; "hazing did not cause the car accident.”
The group did describe Cumberland’s death as “a tragic event that claimed the life of an exceptional person."
This is not the first time the Texas Cowboys have been kicked off campus.
In 1995, the university handed down a 5-year suspension after the hazing death of a member.
The suspension will most likely not muzzel the cannon during future homes games. In the past, that responsibility has been handed off to another organization. The Silver Spurs who care for Bevo, the longhorn mascot, took control of the cannon in 1995.
Some students think the Silver Spurs should keep the job.
"Yeah I think that would be a pretty good idea if possible,” said Travis Langston.
The university will allow the Texas Cowboys to return but certain conditions must be met. Key points include: The creation of a risk management position on the executive committee. Yearly update of the safety and risk management plan. Holding a class on hazing prevention with details about the incident last year and in '95.
"I don’t think they should be allowed to come back,” said UT Student Zoey Roden.”
The Texas Cowboys can appeal the suspension and according to a spokesperson the leadership is considering options. In condemning the actions of the cowboys the university stated the group seemed to be more concerned about passing on traditions than learning lessons.