Statement from Cumberland family on Texas Cowboys’ 6-year suspension from the University

Editor's note: The following is a statement from Shawn Cumberland, the father of Nicky Cumberland, on the six-year suspension of the Texas Cowboys from the University.

The Cowboy’s statement is extremely disappointing.

It tells us that nothing has changed since Gabe Higgins death.  There is no ownership, but rather lack of sincere remorse.  The Cowboys alumni does not accept responsibility for the continued culture of hazing and for the deceptive and dangerous system that was put in place to protect and promote hazing.  The alumni care only about the preservation of the organization, but not the safety of the individuals.

Within hours of the fatal accident, the Cowboys went into preservation mode with their lawyer in action.

The Cowboys quickly commissioned an independent “investigation”.  However, the investigator never looked once at the victim.  No inquiry of his parents about the marks on Nicky’s body; no request about the condition of his clothing; no request about the contents of his cell phone; no request about what eye witnesses may have said to any of his family members; no discussion with his girlfriend about why Nicky was afraid he was going to get hurt prior to departing for the event.  We would call this a whitewash.

During the University investigation, we are told that the Administration received daily emails and messages seeking leniency even before the results had been released.

As for the Cowboy’s service to the community, this is the PR machine at its worst.  The feedback we are now hearing is that the Cowboys are truly a social organization trying to project an image as a service organization.

Closely examine their boosts.  Donating “hundreds of thousands” is lame amount over an extended 65 year period. When I first saw the front page of the Cowboy website assert $250,000 over the 65-year period, my reaction was it must be a typo; that’s a pathetic amount per annum.  The Cowboys alumni counts some of the most successful businessmen in the State of Texas.

By contrast:  Nicky’s high school friend raised $150,000 in 30 days to defray some of his medical bills.  Nicky rode a few times in the MS150 on a small team that raised $1mm in a dozen years.

Regarding:  “volunteered tens of thousands of community service hours.”

Let’s put that in perspective:  with ~100 boys each year and 5800 waking hours per year over 65 years [btw, the Cowboys are almost 100 years old], 20,000 hours of service would not even be 1% of a young man’s time.  In fact, it’s not even 1/10 of 1% (it would be 1/20th of 1%).  Further, we assume much of the time they count includes preparation and attendance at a date parties where they spend hundreds of thousands on entertainment to net the tiny amount mentioned above.

As for the sleep deprivation claim, we strongly disagree.  The driver should never been allowed to depart after a full days event with our son and too many other passengers with inadequate sleep.  (Further, there were no seatbelts available for everyone.)  It’s of zero relevance that some boys slept while the driver carrying our son fell asleep on the road.  This would be the equivalent of saying some boys didn’t drink, but we let a driver drink and drive.  Numerous posted UT transportation policies were broken on that fatal trip.
Based on the disappointing statement from the Cowboys, my fear is that upon returning from the six year expulsion, nothing will have changed (again).
I would welcome to have an on-campus open public dialogue with the chairman of the Cowboy alumni about any of the above items.  Perhaps, we could invite President Fenves to chair the discussion.