Police in western Pennsylvania are investigating reports that younger players have been assaulted by older players on a high school basketball team over the last 10 years.

Leechburg police Chief Mike Diebold characterized the incidents as "assaults," not hazing. He also said they involved use of a stick and had sexual connotations.

Parents familiar with the issue at Leechburg High School contend the issue may be overblown and say the stick wasn't used to sexually penetrate any player.

But police in Leechburg, about 35 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, have received "some very serious allegations" through a statewide abuse hotline, the chief said.

"Over the course of this conduct, as far back as we've taken it so far, there are different levels of severity that have gone on," he told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Thursday. "I could tell you that the current accusations and allegations by the victims we have are of a lower level of severity as compared to the information we have for years past."

The Leechburg Area High School team has qualified for the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League playoffs, which begin next week.  The school board will hold a special meeting Tuesday about the boys' basketball team.

School officials aren't commenting on the accusations, citing confidentiality.

"The school has handled it, the police department has handled it, the team has handled it weeks ago," head boy's basketball coach Damian Davies told the Tribune-Review.  "The sensationalism -- and it's getting revisited for whatever reason. It's been very difficult on the school and students."