RENO, Nev. — A national fraternity has revoked the charter of its chapter at the University of Nevada, Reno, where campus officials probed suspected alcohol and marijuana use and topless dancers at an event where a college freshman fell down a stairway and died.

Sigma Nu executive Brad Beacham said Thursday an investigation by the Lexington, Virginia-based fraternity found violations of alcohol and hazing policies relating to the October death of 18-year-old Ryan Abele of Concord, California.

“In keeping with our mission of developing ethical leaders for society, Sigma Nu Fraternity will not tolerate such violations of its law, policies and principles,” Beacham said in a statement.

The national organization is working with UNR officials to finalize a 15-year suspension imposed for violating school conduct codes and alcohol policy, Beacham said in an email. The chapter had planned to appeal the suspension.

In addition to underage drinking, the Office of Student Conduct probe turned up reports of marijuana use and topless dancers at an Oct. 16 fraternity house pledging event at which Abele was injured falling down a stairway.

The graduate of De La Salle High School in Concord died 12 days later, after a main artery in his brain ruptured.

Campus police declined to seek criminal charges. School Police Chief Adam Garcia said in December the investigation didn’t support probable cause findings of felony or misdemeanor conduct.

The fraternity was founded in 1869 at the Virginia Military Institute. It counts 235,000 members over the years at 165 chapters and colonies.


This story corrects reference to the headquarters city of Sigma Nu as Virginia, not Kentucky.