ATHENS, Pa. (WETM) – The Athens Area School District and Pennsylvania State Police are investigating multiple bullying and hazing incidents against student-athletes throughout the summer, according to a statement from the school district.
AASD Superintendant Craig Stage and Athletics and Youth Programs Director John Sullivan released a statement on August 24, saying that the school administration was made aware of the incidents on August 20. The statement said the incidents involved “bullying, hazing, and improper behavior that have caused physical and emotional harm” to multiple student-athletes.
The incidents started in July at a football camp at Bloomsburg University and continued on several dates up to pre-season practices at AASD, according to the statement.
The school district said it “immediately opened an investigation” and met with students. The school also contacted Pennsylvania State Police, saying the agency has also launched its own investigation.
“The district does not condone hazing or other actions that cause harm to fellow teammates and student-athletes,” the statement read. “The consequences for the culmination of all incidents in question will be individually and as a team.”
The school said it will not share the names of anyone involved for privacy reasons.
Superintendent Stage told 18 News that head football coach Jack Young has been suspended for one game.
All students who violated school policies in the hazing incidents will be disciplined. All coaches will have to complete Bullying, Hazing, and Improper Behavior training through the National Federation of State High School Associations.
The statement said the training, to be completed by August 26, will focus on “identifying and preventing this behavior”. Varsity and JV athletes will also have to complete similar training by September 9.
AASD also said while coaching staff will work to create “norms and expectations that improve the football program’s culture”, no football games will be canceled.
“We do not feel that it is necessary to take punitive actions against football players who did not participate in these incidents, the marching band, and cheerleaders who also perform at football games,” the statement said.
Saying the district does not condone the behavior, the statement further read, “We are committed as a district to working on changing behaviors and building a new positive culture within our football program and among all student-athletic programs within the district.”