Pa. Football Coach Dismissed Due to Players' Alleged Hazing
Last month, the Central Bucks (Pa.) school district cancelled the remainder of its high school varsity and junior varsity seasons due to "allegations of improper conduct." According to a letter Superintendent David Weitzel sent to parents and staff, new members of the team were required "to grab another player's private parts while fully clothed" in front of most of the team as part of an alleged hazing ritual.
Beyond cancelling the rest of the football season, Weitzel suspended all members of the varsity and junior varsity coaching staff "pending further investigation."
Last Tuesday, the district came to a decision following its internal investigation: Head football coach Brian Hensel would not return to his coaching duties next year. In a letter to the community, Weitzel cited "a lack of guidance and adequate supervision of the team over the course of the whole season" as the reason to remove Hensel from his job as head coach, noting that Hensel and his fellow coaches were the school's only sports coaches who did not sign the required Coaches Code of Conduct.
Hensel will, however, retain his job as a chemistry teacher at Central Bucks High School West. He had been the school's head football coach for the past six years, according to The Morning Call.
The assistant coaches had their suspensions lifted following the investigation, too, although their "future involvement with the football program will be determined after the selection of the new head coach," the superintendent wrote in his letter. Three of the assistant coaches defended Hensel to The Philadelphia Inquirer, with one suggesting they had not received the school's Coaches Code of Conduct until Oct. 16, the day after the district launched a probe into the hazing allegations.
The football players, meanwhile, face no additional disciplinary actions aside from the cancellation of their season. Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler told The Philadelphia Inquirer that the district's investigation suggested no players committed crimes against one another.
"Tacky, not appropriate, not what one would wish to have happened, not appropriate team building, and dippy and unmanly to boot," he told the paper, but not criminal.
In a statement on the district's website, Weitzel explained the next steps for the football program and the district as a whole.
"This has been a challenging and painful few weeks for all of us connected to Central Bucks High School West and for the school district community as a whole," he said. "We are a resilient school district and will demonstrate that resilience once again by how we choose to respond as a community to any form of hazing, initiation, or bullying. The safety, security, and dignity of our students must always be our highest priority."
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