There are few, if any, firings of high school coaches that come with a more bizarre and sordid backstory than this: Three boys hockey coaches at a school in Michigan were relieved of their duties after photos emerged showing their players paraded through town in women's clothing on a road trip, all after players were allowed to drink alcohol on buses to and from road trips.
As reported by Detroit TV network WDIV and LivingstonDaily.com, among other outlets (including OnlineSportsGuys, which first flagged the issue to Prep Rally), Howell (Mich.) High boys hockey coach Randy Montrose and assistants Scott Gardiner and Marty Passino were fired after Howell Public Schools officials were shown photos of the team's players at a bar in Marquette, Mich., wearing bras and panties. Photos of the incident hit Facebook and eventually local media outlets, all while Montrose bizarrely tried to defend his program's cross-dressing habit as something less than hazing.
"It's not hazing," Montrose told WDIV. "This is something like a right of passage. This has been done voluntarily by the boys. It's more like team building."
That seems like a bit of a stretch, to put it mildly. Needless to say, Howell superintendent Ron Wilson felt the incident fell squarely under the properties of traditional hazing, enough so that he acted quickly to end Montrose's 10-year tenure at the school once definitive proof that the cross-dressing incident took place leaked out.
"We interviewed a number of students who acknowledged there was drinking on the bus both on the way up and back," Wilson told LivingstonDaily.com. "There was a combination of things. The coach admitted being involved in a physical altercation with one of the parents. He admitted consuming alcohol on a school trip and that it had been going on for years.
"Any one of those three things would have been enough to merit a dismissal. Unfortunately, when we have a combination of inappropriate behavior and misconduct, it doesn't leave us any option but to dismiss those in charge."
Meanwhile, the team returned to the ice for the first time since allegations of the rowdy road trip first emerged, expressing astonishment at how the entire incident played out with the departure of their longtime coach.
"We had no idea anything would happen," Howell hockey co-captain Collin Myers told LivingstonDaily.com. "We've been doing it for years, and I never thought anything would come out of it."
Added teammate Senior Travis Wever, who admitted to being one of the players who wore lingerie:
"No one was anxious or scared to do it," he said. "We were looking forward to it. We thought it would be funny for the players, parents and coach. We just danced. Nothing vulgar, nothing bad, in our opinion."