Middletown Area School District in Pennsylvania has canceled its 2022 football season just days before the scheduled kickoff due to an incident of “widespread” hazing among players on the high school football team.
The school district’s decision stems from an August 11 hazing incident that happened on school property during a practice, ABC 27 reported. After the school district heard reports of the matter, it launched an investigation and obtained video of the hazing.
“Unfortunately, this video demonstrates that this hazing was much more widespread, and involved many more students than we had previously known,” Middletown District Superintendent Chelton Hunter said.
According to a school district statement, cell phone footage showed a group of fully clothed football players holding down two of their teammates and poking their buttocks area with a muscle therapy gun and another piece of equipment.
Along with going forward with its own investigation, the school district shared the footage with the local police department. The school district added that it will discipline the students at fault for breaking the code of conduct and hazing policy, and Hunter warned that if the district finds that any staff members ignored the hazing incident, they will also face discipline.
Three days after the district launched an investigation, the head coach of the football team resigned, according to the district. The district named an interim head coach before deciding to cancel the season a week later.
The cancellation also affects the school’s cheerleading team and marching band, but the district promised to look for other opportunities for the cheerleaders and band members. Middletown was scheduled to play its first game against Lower Dauphin on Friday. At least one player, Middletown’s quarterback Bamm Appleby, transferred to another high school to play in the 2022 season.
Neighboring school district Steelton-Highspire Superintendent Mick Iskric told ABC 27 that he offered Middletown to have its cheer team and band perform at its home games for the season.
“I spoke with Dr. Hunter – Chelton Hunter today in regards to it, and the way I put it was we’re rivals, but we’re neighbors. So whatever we can do to help and you know, I look at it, whereas, you know, with my own daughters, I would want them to have every opportunity possible,” Iskric said.