Sussex County Sports Blog

By Dan Cleary

10/29/2014 - Hazing At Eldred Cancels Game At Sussex Tech

    It is a issue that has been splashed across the nation the last month.

   When it first broke, you couldn’t read a paper or the internet or watch television without hearing about it and I’m not talking about Ebola (thank God!).
   It is the very serious issue of sexual assault amongst high school athletes in the guise of “hazing.”
   I haven’t’ really commented on what down at Sayreville because it doesn’t directly affect the Mugs Media area and I don’t have any more facts than anyone else who reads the paper or nj.com.
   But now it has hit home and has affected a team from the area, and thankfully, not by its actions but those of an upcoming opponent.
   It was revealed on Monday night that Eldred High School in Sullivan County N.Y. had cancelled its last football game of the season this Saturday at Sussex Tech due to allegations of “widespread and pervasive hazing by players,” according to a report in the Times Herald-Record of Middletown (N.Y.) Wednesday.
   The Eldred district Superintendent Robert Dufour made the decision after it was found that the hazing was sexual in nature and had occurred over a three-week period on school grounds, according to the report (which is below in full).
   “Our school district’s highest priority is the safety and security of all of our students,” Dufour said in the story. “While these acts did not result in any physical harm, they were not harmless in intent. Hazing is not acceptable, will not be tolerated and will be dealt with severely by the district. The Code of Conduct we have in place in our school district specifically prohibits hazing or any other act that dehumanizes or humiliates another individual.”
   The report added: “Eldred football coach Mike Hoover, in his second season, did not return a phone call seeking comment for this story.
   The district’s investigation into the allegations is ongoing, Dufour said. Any student who is found to have been hazing or concealing the fact that it was occurring will be disciplined under the district’s Code of Conduct. 
   Eldred informed the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department and the state police about the hazing allegations. According to the state police, which investigated the incident, no charges were filed.”
   Incredible.
   After everything that went on at Sayreville and the national news it became, it still seemed like a good idea to sexual assault a teammate?  Not that there is ever a good time to commit a felony and sexual assault of any kind is completely and utterly unacceptable.    
   But to continue to do it with all the scrutiny going on is completely mind-numbing to me.
   There are two issues here I want to address.  One, when did good natured hazing jump off the tracks? And the other is bravo to Sussex Tech for not taking a forfeit to improve its record to 4-4.
   Sussex Tech AD Debra Keiper went out and within hours found a new opponent in Long Island Lutheran (4-3), a small private school of about 400 students.   Not only did she get a game but Long Island Lutheran is making the trip up from the Island to do it.
   Great job.
   It really shows how far the Mustang program has come under Bobby Leach with the support of Keiper and the administration at Sussex Tech.
   When the school brought back football a few years ago its only two wins before Leach arrived were forfeit wins.  Not anymore and that is the right way to go if you want to develop  a serious program that is going to compete to win every time it steps on the field.
   And that is what Leach and Sussex Tech wants to do.  No more forfeits, no more moral victories.  They want wins on the field and they will get  a chance to get win No. 4 this week.
   Again I can’t say enough about what Leach has done at Tech.  He has changed the culture of losing into one of winning in that the Mustangs are upset and surprised when they lose.
   Five years ago, they were happy to just score a touchdown.  Last week?  They put up 43 points in their win over Collegiate.  There were seasons when the Mustangs didn’t score 43 all year.
   Amazing.
   Now the other issue about hazing.  I played football all my life and thank goodness I never witnessed anything as disgusting that has been alleged at Sayreville and Eldred.
   What I called good-natured hazing was when the underclassmen had to collect the equipment, were the last in the water line or during camp had to bring the seniors their lunch.
   Silly stuff like that.
   Some may say that is over the line, and maybe in this day and age it is.  I don’t think so but everyone from parents, coaches, administrators and players must be vigilant that what occurred in Eldred and Sayreville does not occur on their watch.
   There is just so much more to lose than a high school football season.
   That’s it for now see you on the sidelines.
(FULL STORY WRITTEN BY JUSTIN RODRGIGUEZ OF THE TIMES HERALD-RECORD)
     Eldred’s football team will forfeit its last game of the season because of widespread and pervasive hazing by players, according to district Superintendent Robert Dufour.
   The district became aware of the hazing allegations, which were sexual in nature, on Monday. Eldred immediately launched a probe into the misconduct, which revealed that over a three-week period, some players pushed their genitals into the face of others while on school grounds.
    Students were fully clothed during the incidents. Eldred, which was supposed to play a nonleague game at Sussex Tech at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, finishes the year 2-7.
   “Our school district’s highest priority is the safety and security of all of our students,” Dufour said. “While these acts did not result in any physical harm, they were not harmless in intent. Hazing is not acceptable, will not be tolerated and will be dealt with severely by the district. The Code of Conduct we have in place in our school district specifically prohibits hazing or any other act that dehumanizes or humiliates another individual.”
   Eldred football coach Mike Hoover, in his second season, did not return a phone call seeking comment for this story.
   The district’s investigation into the allegations is ongoing, Dufour said. Any student who is found to have been hazing or concealing the fact that it was occurring will be disciplined under the district’s Code of Conduct. 
   Eldred informed the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department and the state police about the hazing allegations. According to the state police, which investigated the incident, no charges were filed.
   Eldred will hold building-wide assemblies to address the dangers of hazing, as well as team meetings with all student-athletes for the upcoming winter season. Counseling services are also being made available for students if they need them. 
   Eldred is the second school in Section 9 to cancel games as a result of alleged hazing in less than two weeks,
    Monroe-Woodbury canceled the remaining two jayvee football games of its season on Oct. 17 because of alleged bullying incidents in the form of racial slurs and homophobic comments made by players and directed toward teammates. Monroe-Woodbury interim Superintendent Elsie Rodriguez and Town of Woodbury police continue to investigate the alleged hazing.
   “I think we have to take all potential hazing incidents seriously, regardless of the level or sport,” said Robert Zayas, executive director of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association. “With the recent hazing incidents in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, athletic directors and coaches need to be even more diligent, to ensure that they understand the seriousness of hazing and what it can lead to.”
 
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1/31/2008
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1/25/2008
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1/3/2008
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12/27/2007
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10/31/2007
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10/1/2007
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