Historic Yale men's basketball season marred by sudden departure of its captain

On Saturday night, the Yale men’s basketball team clinched a berth into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1962.

It was a moment of elation for a basketball program and fans who haven’t accomplished the feat in over five decades.

However, the victory was also in some ways overshadowed by the sudden departure of former team captain Jack Montague.

It’s not clear why he left Yale, but students at the school have suggested he’s been accused of a sexual assault. When his fellow teammates wore t-shirts in support of him, posters appeared around campus telling the team to “stop supporting a rapist,” according to the Yale Daily News.

Montague was expelled by Yale this winter, his father, Jim Montague, told the New Haven Register, providing scant details following advice from his lawyer.

“We have strict orders from our lawyers,” Jim Montague told the Register. “Soon enough, I’d love to tell the other side of the story. It’s ridiculous, why he’s expelled. It’s probably going to set some sort of precedent.”

Yale University has not given a reason for Montague’s departure, explaining to the Yale Daily News (YDN) that “the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act prohibits educational institutions from releasing a student’s private academic records without the student’s prior written consent.”

Yale was not immediately available for comment, nor was a law firm representing Montague.

While there’s no record of an arrest or court hearing involving Montague, according to YDN, the team stirred up controversy on campus for dressing in warm-up t-shirts with Montague’s number and his nickname, “Gucci,” before a game on February 26. The team has said it was a showing of solidarity with Montague.

“We just wanted to make it as clear as possible that Jack is one of our brothers,” Yale basketball team member Justin Sears told the YDN. “He’s family to us and we miss him.”

It was a sentiment that men’s head coach James Jones echoed Saturday night after the team’s win.

“Jack knows how we feel about him — we love him,” Jones said. “He’s a great young man and we love him.”

But it’s that showing of support that has angered some Yale students who argue the rhetoric perpetuates violence against women and enables a rape culture on campus.

“Rape culture is standing by your teammate and silencing Yale’s victims of sexual assault,” read a note left in a lecture hall last week, the YDN reported.

And students hit out at Dean of Yale College, Jonathan Holloway, after he emailed students asking them to treat each other with “civility” when discussing the basketball team with other students on campus.

The email was posted to a Facebook group called “Overheard at Yale,” with a strike through Holloway’s original text, replaced with “support Yale women and stand with survivors of sexual violence.”

Recently, there’s been more awareness of sexual violence on US college campuses.

Last year, 106 colleges were under federal investigation for allegedly mishandling sexual assault cases, and researchers have begun to describe sexual assaults on campus as an epidemic.

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