Report on hazing, extensive drinking prompts resignation of UC Davis baseball coach

 A UC Davis report concluded baseball players engaged in initiation rituals that included binge drinking.
A UC Davis report concluded baseball players engaged in initiation rituals that included binge drinking.
(UC Davis)

According to a confidential investigative report, the UC Davis baseball team engaged in long-standing hazing rituals for new players that included drinking competitions and scavenger hunt-style challenges that culminated in lap dances first from teammates, then from professional strippers.

UC Davis announced Friday that coach Matt Vaughn has resigned.

The 34-page report, obtained by The Times through a public records act request, is the culmination of an investigation that began in July and was conducted by the university office of compliance and police. UC Davis investigations director Wendy Lilliedoll authored the report.


The evidence established that Vaughn — identified as Coach A in the report — knew or should have known about the initiation since at least 2018 and failed to take reasonable steps to address it. He also exhibited a “lapse in judgment in telling an anecdote to his players in 2021 that involved excessive drinking and naked women.”

However, the report did not conclude that Vaughn’s “behavior established gross misconduct and improper governmental activity under the University’s Whistleblower Policy.”

Vaughn was the Aggies head coach for 10 years and part of the program since he was a pitcher from 1989-92. UC Davis struggled in 2021, posting a record of 14-43. The Aggies were 8-32 in Big West Conference play. Ten of the players on the 2021 team are from Southland high schools.

The report stated “evidence was insufficient to establish that assistant coaches [Brett Lindgren and Lloyd Acosta] knew or should have known about the initiation tradition.” Lindgren has left the program and Acosta will continue as an assistant at least until a new head coach is hired.

All three coaches were placed on administrative leave when the investigation was launched in July. The team was prohibited from practicing until about five weeks ago. A university spokesman said unsupervised team activities will be prohibited and an administrator will travel with the team to and from games. All UC Davis athletes will be required to complete training intended to prevent hazing.

The possibility that Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer could be suspended might raise a thorny question: Just what is the appropriate length of a suspension?

Nov. 1, 2021


“Many [players] framed the initiation as an overall positive bonding experience, but with negative elements in terms of certain undesirable activities or excessive intoxication,” the report read.

Sexual contact was implied by veteran players before and during initiations, which dated back to at least 2009, but there wasn’t evidence that sexual contact actually occurred. The report stated, “For example, upperclassmen made comments, telling rookies to shave their ‘buttholes,’ trim their nails, and not wear underwear to initiation. Some 2020 rookies who stated they had heard similar comments claimed they knew they were a joke.”

According to the report, the initiations sometimes ended with new players barely coherent from binge drinking getting blindfolded and receiving lap dances from veteran players and then from strippers.

Initiations also included eating goldfish, drinking “mystery shots,” engaging in a game called “Don’t F--- Your Brother” where two teams of first-year players “raced to drink a jug of alcohol,” and, in at least one case, players were expected to consume a 1.75-liter bottle of alcohol before 10 a.m.

In addition to the initiation rituals, the report concluded that “the baseball players established a team culture of alcohol use and pressure to use alcohol.” High school players on recruiting trips were pressured to drink and excessive drinking was central to the initiation rituals. Initiations included a game called “beer boxing,” which required two players to drink beer until one player vomited.

During the last road trip of the season to Long Beach State on May 28-30, players were drinking on the bus ride back to Davis, witnesses told investigators.

And although the report stated “the evidence did not establish a team culture of drug use,” witnesses did express “credible accounts of multiple players using drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, Molly, LSD and mushrooms.”

The investigation included interviews with 18 current and former players, all three coaches, assistant athletic director Josh Flushman and five other UC Davis employees

Trevor Bauer won’t pitch again this season, and certainly not again for the Dodgers, who must face the consequences for signing him for years to come.

Sept. 11, 2021