New Jersey high school cancels season amid hazing investigation
A high school in New Jersey has canceled the remainder of its football team's season in the wake of an investigation into hazing allegations.
The superintendent of War Memorial High in Sayreville, Richard Labbe, made the announcement Monday night.
Labbe had announced last week that Sayreville games across all levels of play were canceled this past weekend due to "inappropriate conduct" within the football program. NJ.com reported then that hazing was at the center of the cancellation.
At a press conference last Friday to discuss the cancellation of the weekend's games, angry parents were unable to be calmed, leading to a private meeting with Labbe and players' parents Monday night, where the determination was made that the rest of the season would be foregone.
"There was enough evidence that there were incidents of harassment, of intimidation and bullying that took place on a pervasive level, on a wide-scale level and at a level at which the players knew, tolerated and generally accepted," Labbe told reporters Monday night. "Based upon what has been substantiated to have occurred, we have canceled the remainder of the football season."
The allegations are being investigated by the Sayreville Police Department and Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office. The school district will decide on separate internal punishment if charges are brought against any students.
According to NJ.com, most parents left Monday night's meeting "tense and angry."
"It’s bogus," said Curtis Beckham, whose son is on the varsity team. "They’re holding the kids accountable and not holding the coaching staff and the teachers accountable. I don’t think what they’re doing is fair. A lot of the students who are innocent, they’re suffering."
Men wearing football varsity jackets and state championship T-shirts and holding a Sayreville flag crowded around the back of the school [before the meeting] and acted aggressively toward reporters, warning them not to take photographs or attempt to speak to parents after the meeting. The men followed reporters throughout the parking lot, and more than once, one of the men declared, "Not in our town!"
Sayreville has won state championships in three of the past four seasons.
Last week, an assistant coach for the team, Charles Garcia, resigned after he was charged by police with possession of steroids and syringes. Labbe said the incident is the subject of a separate investigation.
- Ben Estes