Bowling Green State University in Ohio has reached a $2.9 million settlement agreement with the family of Stone Foltz, a 20-year-old sophomore who died in 2021 after members of a fraternity he was pledging hazed him at an off-campus initiation event.
The settlement, which the university and Mr. Foltz’s parents announced at a news conference on Monday, ends a nearly two-year legal battle that began shortly after Mr. Foltz died of alcohol poisoning in March 2021, as he was pledging the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.
Cory and Shari Foltz said they planned to use the money from the settlement of their wrongful-death lawsuit to support the efforts of the iamstonefoltz Foundation, which they started after their son had died, to end hazing.
“From Day 1, we’ve always wanted the same thing as Bowling Green: to eradicate hazing across the country,” Cory Foltz said at the news conference in Columbus, Ohio. “I strongly believe that today, moving forward, we can work with Bowling Green, and Bowling Green will be one of the first universities to take the big step towards eliminating hazing across this country.”
The off-campus event that Mr. Foltz attended on March 4, 2021, required new members, who were known as “little brothers” or “littles,” to consume large amounts of alcohol. Mr. Foltz, who like most of the new members was underage, drank about a liter of whiskey at the event, prosecutors said. His roommate later found him unresponsive in their apartment. He died three days later.
The Lucas County coroner ruled that Mr. Foltz had died as a result of “fatal ethanol intoxication during hazing incident.” Prosecutors said that during the police investigation several of the fraternity members lied to investigators and destroyed both physical and electronic evidence.
Five men pleaded guilty to various charges in connection with Mr. Foltz’s death, including reckless homicide, hazing and tampering with evidence. Two others were found guilty of misdemeanor counts after being acquitted of more serious charges, including involuntary manslaughter and reckless homicide, The Associated Press reported.
They were sentenced to serve from seven days to six weeks in jail, in addition to 28 days of house arrest. After Mr. Foltz’s death, Bowling Green permanently expelled the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity from its campus.
Since their son’s death, Mr. Foltz’s parents have worked to eradicate hazing on college campuses. They said on Monday that they planned to expand their foundation’s programming to include presentations to middle and high school students across the country about the dangers of hazing and alcohol poisoning.
The settlement includes a commitment from Bowling Green to work with the Foltz family to stop hazing in Greek-letter organizations on its campus.
“This resolution keeps the Foltz family and B.G.S.U. community from reliving the tragedy for years to come in the courtroom and allows us to focus on furthering our shared mission of eradicating hazing in Ohio and across the nation,” they said. “Leading these efforts in our communities is the real work that honors Stone.”
The money from the settlement, Shari Foltz said, will not bring the family closure “because it’s not going to bring Stone back.”
“But what it does allow,” she said, is for the family’s foundation to continue its efforts to “teach the students, the community, the parents about hazing. And we can continue our fight in saving lives.”
Cory Foltz said he believed the foundation’s work would also help honor his son’s legacy.
“I think he’d be very happy,” he said, “to hear that we’re caring for other parents’ children as well.”