A high school football coach in Ohio was fired Thursday after forcing a player to eat pork as a punishment, according to the New York Times.
The incident occurred after a senior on the Canton McKinley High School football team missed an optional practice. On May 24, the 17-year-old player was reportedly forced by coaches to eat an entire pepperoni pizza as punishment. The player is a Hebrew Israelite, and cannot consume pork for religious reasons.
The player was reportedly told he had to eat an entire pizza or his teammates would be punished with extra drills. Coaches allowed the player to remove the pepperoni from the pizza after the player informed them of his beliefs. The player believed coaches were aware of his dietary restriction before ordering the punishment.
The player's family intends to sue the school district and the player is reportedly in therapy as a result of the incident.
Coaches were initially suspended and eventually fired
Head coach Marcus Wattley and seven assistant coaches were initially suspended as a result of the incident. The Canton City School Board met Thursday, and voted 5-0 to terminate the contracts of Wattley and six assistant coaches.
Superintendent Jeff Talbert reiterated, “This means that these individuals are no longer coaches with the Canton City School District and they will not be involved in any Canton City Schools Football activity moving forward.”
Talbert added that an investigation revealed coaches "engaged in actions that constituted inappropriate, demeaning, and divisive behavior." Talbert said that type of behavior would not be tolerated.
The one assistant coach who wasn't fired may have been the person who reported the episode to the school. One coach who was not present reportedly informed the school of what happened, according to the New York Times.
Athletic director Antonio Hall will take over as the team's interim coach.
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