Hazing allegations shut down Minnesota HS football team, for now
Hazing allegations involving a sports team — not unusual. Suspending practice while the school tries to get to the bottom of those allegations — that’s unusual.
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the varsity football program at Elk River (Minn.) High School, located in an exurb at the end of a commuter rail line connected with Minneapolis, was suspended Aug. 25 while school officials check into hazing allegations made by the parent of an apparent victim.
The school did not reveal the nature of the hazing, and apparently no one has sought medical attention related to it, according to the Elk River district. But the school has hired an attorney to conduct a third-party investigation. The district told the Star Tribune that all 54 players have been interviewed, with 15 of those players more closely tied to the allegations coming back for another round Aug. 26.
From the Star Tribune:
Superintendent Mark Bezek announced his decision to shelve the program “until further notice” in a meeting with about 200 parents and students Wednesday night at the high school.
“I am shocked and dismayed by these allegations,” Bezek told the gathering. “This district does not tolerate hazing or other unlawful activities.”
Bezek added, “This isn’t just kids fooling around. This has some very serious implications.”
One of those implications: that the school will get its ass sued off and/or get its name sullied if it doesn’t address the hazing allegations in a firm and forceful way. Ask Carmel, Ind., High School how much mental and financial pain has come from brushing off hazing allegations involving its boys’ basketball team, allegations that later become criminal cases against the players who allegedly perpetrated the treatment.
Of course, you’d also like to think that the school really was outraged on a moral level. Until I hear otherwise, I won’t take the cynical route outlined in the previous paragraph.
The Star Tribune reports that the players could be back on the practice field as soon as Aug. 27, and that Elk River’s opening game is still expected to kick off as scheduled on Sept. 2. However, it will be interesting to see what is left of the team at that point. Unless the hazing allegations turn out to be completely baseless, you can consider Elk River’s season sufficiently ruined.