The United States Air Force Academy has told the Associated Press that 27 cadets sustained serious injuries after a brawl during an unofficial ritual marking the first snowfall of the season.
The AP reports that six cadets were taken to an off-campus hospital after the Oct. 25 brawl, but have since been released. The others were reportedly treated at a cadet clinic, the academy said Wednesday.
According to the newswire, injuries included concussions, cuts and a human bite, and some cadets required stitches, Brig. Gen. Dana Born wrote in an internal email that was provided to The Associated Press and other media outlets.
Rig. Gen. Gregory Lengyel, the commandant of cadets, said in a statement obtained by KCTV in Kansas City that the brawl was unacceptable. He not say how many cadets were involved but that it was a "relatively small number."
The ritual is called "First Shirt/First Snow" and involves freshmen trying to throw cadet first sergeants - known as first shirts - into the snow, AP reports.
"This ritual has devolved to become increasingly violent, with significant numbers of cadets requiring medical care over the past two years," Born wrote in her email.
"What used to be (freshmen) throwing the first shirt into the snow has turned into a brawl between upperclassmen defending the first sergeant and the (freshmen) trying to capture the first sergeant."
It wasn't immediately known how many cadets were injured last year.
"Obviously, this has gotten out of hand and cannot be repeated," Born wrote.
Born added hat Lengyel stopped short of banning the ritual and said cadets could propose keeping it if they found a way to avoid violence.
The academy is located outside Colorado Springs and has about 4,000 students. Upon graduation, they are commissioned as second lieutenants in the Air Force, according to AP.