Columbia University suspended its wrestling team while it investigates apparent lewd text messages sent by members of the team.
Columbia started the investigation when reports surfaced online about the messages. The school described the text messages as "appalling, at odds with the core values of the university, and violate team guidelines."
"The Department of Athletics has decided that Columbia wrestlers will not compete until we have a full understanding of the facts on which to base the official response to this disturbing matter," the school said in a statement.
Screengrabs of the purported messages in a group chat were first published on Bwog, an independent student-run blog. Many of the texts included lewd, homophobic and racially insensitive language.
The university did not say how long the investigation would last. A university spokeswoman said it was possible the team could compete in a couple of days or this weekend, depending on the outcome of the investigation.
The New York Times reported that at Columbia some students wanted the university to take a similar stance if the accusations against the wrestling team were substantiated.
"Seeing that dialogue happening behind closed doors with our classmates and our peers was very, very shocking," Claire Fry, a Columbia sophomore, told the NYT on Sunday, adding that she hoped cancelling Sunday's season-opening meet was "a first step and not the end of the discussion".
On Friday and Saturday, students protested outside the fraternity house of Kappa Delta Rho, which counts wrestlers among its membership. A Change.org petition calling for the expulsion of wrestlers had 875 supporters Monday evening.
Other students were planning to spread fliers throughout campus Monday to "protest the culture that permeates Columbia's men's athletics teams," according to the description of a Facebook group. Almost 500 students were listed as interested in or planning to attend the event.
Earlier this month, Harvard University suspended its men's soccer team for the remainder of the season because of sexual comments made about members of the women's soccer team.
A 2012 document uncovered last month by The Harvard Crimson student newspaper rated the attractiveness of recruits on the women's team and included lewd comments about them. Members of the men's team called it their "scouting report" and circulated it online.