The laws of privacy and decency have been tested in the realm of college sports as the University of Wisconsin’s women’s volleyball team experienced a leak of very private images of the team. School officials announced that the University of Wisconsin and its police department had launched an investigation after personal team images and video of the women’s volleyball team were leaked online.
The school’s athletic department confirmed the inquiry in a statement on Wednesday night.
“We are aware that private photos and video of UW volleyball student-athletes that were never intended to be shared publicly are being circulated digitally,” UW Athletics said in a statement. “The unauthorized sharing is a significant and wrongful invasion of the student athlete’s privacy, including potential violations of university policies and criminal statutes.
“When the student-athletes became aware of the circulating photos, they contacted the UW-Madison Police Department. UWPD is investigating multiple crimes, including sharing sensitive photos without consent. UWPD is not investigating the volleyball student-athletes for wrongdoing in this matter. Our top priority is supporting our student-athletes and we are providing them with the appropriate services and resources.”
The University of Wisconsin women's volleyball team and athletic department are seeking answers after private photos and video of players were shared on the internet.#usnews #usanews #Wisconsin #wisconsinvolleyball #NCAA #MeToo #Hollywood pic.twitter.com/LMeAeKsVxf
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The school discovered the leak after players contacted university police, and authorities reportedly immediately took action when they became aware that the content was being shared online. However, officials did not provide further details. However, they confirmed that officers were “investigating multiple crimes, including sharing sensitive photos without consent.”
The leaked content reportedly had one of the photos involving players posing with raised sports bras. It was seemingly taken after the team clinched the Big Ten title in November 2021. The university’s statement did not indicate when or where the photos or videos were taken.
University of Wisconsin women’s volleyball players were back on the court a day after the images were leaked online. The team defeated the Michigan State Spartans on Friday night in three sets — 25-22, 25-16, 25-15 — amid the ongoing police probe into the leak.
Currently, the Wisconsin Badgers volleyball team is ranked fifth in the nation and is 14-3 with an 8-1 record in the Big Ten Conference. The team will face the University of Michigan Wolverines in their next match scheduled for Sunday. Last year, the University of Wisconsin women’s volleyball team won its first national title when it beat Nebraska in the championship match. The Badgers were ranked fifth in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll before Friday’s home match against the Michigan State Spartans.
The Badgers have played in the last three Final Fours under coach Kelly Sheffield, reaching the finals each time. According to reports, most photographs have been removed from the websites and online platforms on which they were posted.
The leak of the women’s volleyball team’s private content could be considered a form of doxing, or publishing private or identifying information about particular individuals on the internet, typically with malicious intent. With the proliferation of society’s usage of social media platforms as vessels of communication, exposing people’s vulnerabilities now impacts the victim in addition to anonymity for the individual or group that decides to expose people.