An as yet unexplained hazing incident in Massachusetts has led to the extraordinary step of the indefinite suspension of the entire season for a high school wrestling program and the firing of its head coach.
As reported by Brockton Enterprise, among other Massachusetts sources, the Bridgewater-Raynham (Mass.) High wrestling program has suspended both its varsity and junior varsity seasons indefinitely while an investigation into hazing allegations is ongoing. The Bridgewater-Raynham Regional School District has refused to spell out the full details of what occurred or what the punishment will be, but the entire program has been taken out of action until a final punishment is meted out.
While it would be virtually unprecedented, it appears that the cancellation of the program's entire season is a possibility.
"The core values and mission of the B-R district are all about the well-being of our students, and it's all about providing an excellent education in an environment that values the individual," Bridgewater-Raynham Superintendent Jacqueline Forbes told the Enterprise, while noting that the district takes all allegations of hazing "very seriously." The superintendent noted that if the unspecified allegations involving players are proven, expulsions for some students would be considered.
While all appear hopeful that the program's season may resume, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association said that he was surprised with the initial severity of punishment meted out to the entirety of the Bridgewater-Raynham squad.
"Most often the punishments have been individually delivered," MIAA spokesman Paul Wetzel told the Enterprise. "I can't think of a school suspending a team's participation for the season."
Regardless of when the Bridgewater-Raynham wrestling program may reconvene, it will do so without longtime head coach Jeff Francis, who has been fired by the school's administration. Francis has yet to speak on his own behalf in the aftermath of the incident, though at least one of his team captains has also reported being suspended for an unspecified length of time.
The question is whether any of the Bridgewater-Raynham team will get a chance to continue what began as a promising campaign, with the Trojans holding a 7-3 record in the dual meet season before everything came to a sudden, screeching halt.