Help for Harms of Hazing

Blake Novacek has sued the Beta Theta Pi fraternity and two fraternity members over an alleged hazing incident in October of 2015 that reportedly left him with a traumatic brain injury.

Courtesy of Christopher Cooke

Blake Novacek, son of former NFL tight end Jay Novacek, is suing a University of Oklahoma fraternity for brain injuries he sustained from hazing in 2015.

He was pledging to the Beta Theta Pi fraternity on October 11,2015 when he was taken into Shane Musselman’s room and asked to state facts about the fraternity’s history. When he could not give the answers, he was hit in the stomach with a baseball bat. He fell after being hit and struck his head on a hard object which left him unconscious for around 10 hours. Novacek alleges that Gavin Martindale approached him after he woke up and told him to keep his mouth shut about the incident.

Novacek’s attorney, Christopher Cooke, said the plaintiff has been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury, postconcussive syndrome, and bipolar disorder. Novacek is also under the care of many doctors.

Both Martindale and Musselman have retained attorneys to “aggressively defend” them in the suit, and the fraternity denies the allegations. The Gamma Phi chapter said there were no fraternity activities on October 11 because nearly all of the fraternity members were in Dallas for a football game that weekend. Novacek also posted a photo of himself at the Dallas Cowboys football game on October 11.

Cooke says Novacek is unable to recall dates after sustaining head injuries and says the date given is the closest he can recall to the date of the events outlined in the lawsuit.

The most recent fraternity hazing death occurred on September 14 at Louisiana State University. Max Gruver, 18, was laid on a couch by members of Phi Delta Theta that morning. When they came back, his pulse was weak. Gruver died at a nearby hospital later that day. The coroner reported Gruver having a “highly elevated” blood-alcohol level. His BAC was .495, significantly higher than the 0.08 that would be considered legally drunk in Louisiana.

Max Gruver

Arrest warrants were issued for the people involved in Gruver’s death. They were charged with hazing, and Alexander Naquin has an added charge of negligent homicide.

According to the University of Dayton, alcohol consumption is one of the most common activities involved in hazing and contributes to 82% of hazing deaths. Nine out of ten college students who have experienced hazing in college do not believe they have been hazed. While alcohol is a common hazing activity, there are also many others including:
• Morally degrading or humiliating activities, games or stunts
• Physical abuse
• Requiring of nudity
• Having a person run personal errands

Hazing cases that result in death occur each year. However, most students who experience hazing do not come forward and report it to their campus officials. This is partially out of fear of the consequences of their actions and because they do not realize they have been hazed. These activities occur more frequently in clubs, teams, and student organizations. Sometimes hazing occurs with a faculty member who is present or is actually engaging in the activities. TAMUT students can report hazing to the Office of Student Life at (903) 223-3116 or the Vice President of Student Affairs at (903) 223-3602.

For more information about hazing, visit the following links:
http://www.tamut.edu/Campus-Life/Student-Conduct/Hazing.html
http://www.uncw.edu/fsl/hazing/whatis.html

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