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Penn State Fraternity Suspended After Student Hospitalized

Penn State officials are now grappling with another alcohol-fueled incident about eight months after a pledge died after falling at a fraternity party.
Students walk past the Old Main building on the Penn State campus in State College, Pennsylvania.Matt Rourke / AP file

Penn State University officials are grappling with another alcohol-fueled incident just months after a pledge died at a fraternity initiation party.

The university’s Delta Tau Delta fraternity has been suspended "on an interim basis" pending an investigation into an 18-year-old student who was found unconscious by police after he had allegedly been drinking, Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers confirmed to NBC News.

The student was recovering in the hospital after being found Thursday passed-out off-campus, Powers and the Police Department in State College, Pennsylvania, confirmed.

Students walk past the Old Main building on the Penn State campus in State College, Pennsylvania.Matt Rourke / AP file

Penn State’s Office of Student Conduct is investigating whether students provided the underage student with alcohol, Powers said.

Damon Sims, the university's vice president for student affairs, said in a statement that the fraternity's potential involvement "is very disturbing news, given all of the recent efforts and education that have gone into emphasizing student safety."

“None of us can be tolerant of organizations or individuals who value access to alcohol above student welfare," he said.

Related: Hazing in America: Parents of Tim Piazza Help Lead Open Forum on TODAY

Jim Russell, the executive vice president of Delta Tau Delta's national organization, said the fraternity shared "the university’s commitment to student well-being.”

"Recognizing the concerns that led to the chapter’s interim suspension by the university, we will continue to work closely with them during the review of this situation." he said in a statement.

The university and the North-American Interfraternity Conference have imposed a ban on social events involving alcohol for all Penn State fraternities and sororities in response to the death of 19-year-old Timothy Piazza, who fell down stairs during an alcohol-fueled Beta Theta Pi pledge party.

Related: Do Penn State's Reforms After Hazing Death of Timothy Piazza Go Far Enough?

Delta Tau Delta’s suspension is the first test of Penn State’s new stricter alcohol policies that were implemented in August before students returned to campus. The university has also taken steps to improve its student affairs department, conduct random checks on Greek organizations, ban kegs from on-campus parties and institute a zero-tolerance policy on hazing, NBC Philadelphia reported.

Piazza, a sophomore engineering major from New Jersey, was at a pledge event on Feb. 2, when police said he fell down basement stairs after drinking excessively. The fraternity brothers did not call first responders until 12 hours later, prosecutors claimed. Piazza died two days later.

The Beta Theta Pi fraternity has since been disbanded, and 14 of its members are facing misdemeanor charges related to Piazza’s death, including reckless endangerment. A judge dismissed aggravated assault counts against some members.

When asked other details about the newest case — and its relevance to the Piazza case — a State College police spokesman would only say the investigation is still active.