PHILOMATH, Ore. – An Oregon high school shaken by a hazing scandal will not play varsity football this season.
The Philomath School Board canceled the season at a meeting Thursday night, but will allow some junior varsity game to be played, the Corvallis Gazette-Times reported (https://is.gd/F1fk8h ).
Six varsity players have been cited with the juvenile equivalent of harassment and assault charges from an incident at the team's conditioning camp in July. A volunteer assistant coach is also facing a criminal mistreatment charge.
Benton County District Attorney John Haroldson said 11 freshman players had intimate parts of their bodies targeted during an initiation.
All football activities were suspended during the investigation and players didn't resume practice until this week. Superintendent Melissa Goff told board members that three outside experts evaluated the practices to determine the readiness of the athletes to play.
"They unanimously agreed that we do not have the readiness to have a varsity program," she said.
The meeting drew more than 50 people, with many in tears as they addressed the board.
One man read a letter attributed to a group of the parents of the victims.
"We have heard voices of support for the coaches, voices of support for the young men charged, and the seeming unfairness towards them," he said. "We speak up at this time because the lack of focus on what happened to our children, and the lack of apparent empathy for them, has reached a concerning level."
Lori Haslam, the school's dance coach, said the victims have been on the receiving end of snide remarks and catcalls at school. "Retaliation is alive and well at PHS," she said.
Haslam said the school must make sure hazing does not happen again, and coaches like her needed to be responsible for ensuring that.
Melissa Muir, the wife of head football coach Troy Muir, also spoke. She said her husband didn't know about the hazing initiation and those who were involved took advantage of his trust.
Information from: Gazette-Times, http://www.gtconnect.com