It seemed like a fun idea at the time. But by now, the fun is long over.
The Ohio State University women's rugby team, seeking a different way to mark its visit to the nation's capital, took to the steps of Lincoln Memorial on Saturday and posed for a picture. But first, at least a dozen of the players stripped off their jerseys. And they weren't wearing sports bras.
Ohio State has suspended the players from games and practices while it investigates the incident, officials said yesterday. The stunt was not illegal under D.C. law, but that has not stopped university administrators from considering sanctions for the team.
On Monday, David Williams, vice president for student and urban/community affairs, temporarily canceled the team's games and practices. Administrators are interviewing the players and coaches about what happened Saturday afternoon. Williams would not elaborate on what they were considering as the punishment for the team, which is a club rather than a varsity program, though he said that players who did not bare their breasts would not be punished.
"As representatives of Ohio State University, we think the behavior was inappropriate," Williams said.
The 37 players were in Washington to compete against American University when they posed for the picture. A Washington Post photographer, who happened to be on hand to cover a Pagan ritual, also recorded the topless moments.
Williams said the team's co-captains, to whom he has spoken, now feel that it "was not the right thing to do."
Head coach Jon Moore was at the memorial but was unaware of the players' plans, Williams said.
"He did not take part in it, from my understanding," Williams said.
Steve Weaver, the club's assistant coach, said yesterday that the team was told not to talk to members of the media until a decision is handed down. He said that the team was planning to meet during the evening to discuss the incident.
Players could not be reached for comment.
The OSU women's team is in its first year. As a club sport, the team plays in university facilities and receives some university funding but must raise most of its money on its own.
On Saturday, team co-captain Megan Cowley said, "We wanted to do something crazy. It's rugby. It's a crazy sport." Cowley and others said on Saturday that it is a rugby tradition to strip when a point is scored, and that they intended to make a T-shirt with the picture from the memorial and use it for fund-raising. But yesterday, university officials said the players were joking about their plans for the T-shirts.
"We're very careful about alerting the players and coaches that they carry the OSU name with them into any community," said J. Michael Dunn, director of recreational sports. "Our position is that this is an institution of higher learning and this is a learning experience."