Sayreville War Memorial High School's football program will resume play in 2015 following a hazing and sexual assault scandal, Superintendent Rick Labbe said at a Board of Education meeting Tuesday, MyCentralJersey.com reports.
Sayreville's 2014 football season was canceled after seven players were arrested and charged with numerous crimes, including aggravated sexual assault, stemming from allegations of hazing rituals inside the high school's locker room.
"I believe very strongly after the last several months that football is a very important part of our athletic programs and our community and therefore, in counsultation [sic] with our Board of Education, I am pleased to announce to you this evening that we will have a 2015 football season," Labbe said. "I commend the Board and the community for their continued, unwavering support."
Labbe canceled the remainder of the 2014 season on Oct. 5, five days before the players were charged. All seven players are between the ages of 15 and 17; in November, it was determined that they will all be tried as juveniles.
According to NJ.com, three of the players are charged with aggravated sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, conspiracy to commit aggravated criminal sexual contact, criminal restraint and hazing for engaging in an act of sexual penetration upon one of the juvenile victims.
One of those three players and the remaining four are charged with various counts including aggravated assault, conspiracy, aggravated criminal sexual contact, hazing and riot by participating in the attack of the remaining victims.
Since the the players are being tried as juveniles, their records will be sealed. Had they been charged and convicted as adults, the players might have been forced to register as sex offenders.
It remains unclear who will coach Sayreville in 2015. Head coach George Najjar was suspended indefinitely with pay from his tenured physical education teaching job at the school on Oct. 16. None of Sayreville's coaches have been criminally charged; four assistants were suspended with pay from their tenured teaching positions on Oct. 16 before they were reinstated on Nov. 18.
High school athletic director John Kohutanycz resigned earlier on Tuesday. His resignation will take effect on June 30, and he will be placed on administrative leave from April 1 through June 30.
Sayreville is one of New Jersey's most successful public high school football programs, winning three consecutive NJSIAA sectional titles from 2010-12 and earning 18 straight playoff berths before the 2014 season was canceled.
- Mike Fiammetta