BANGOR, Maine — Nine Bangor High School football players have been disciplined by the school as a result of their involvement in a locker-room incident after practice last week.
School principal Paul Butler said Tuesday afternoon that the discipline consists of a one-game suspension, a one-day out-of-school suspension, a one-day in-school suspension and an educational requirement.
Letters outlining the disciplinary actions were to be sent home with the student-athletes involved.
“We’ve determined the incident was inappropriate and responded with appropriate discipline on the school and extracurricular levels,” said Butler. “We did a thorough investigation of all involved students and staff, and while there are no students that identify themselves as victims of hazing and while there are no injuries, we can’t excuse it, especially in today’s world, and we’ve responded.”
Some of the players involved fulfilled their one-game suspension last Friday night, when head coach Mark Hackett issued team-based suspensions shortly before the Rams’ 18-0 loss to Oxford Hills of South Paris.
Those teams will meet again this Friday night at Cameron Stadium in Bangor in the first round of the Eastern Maine Class A playoffs, and should the disciplined players who sat out last Friday’s game fulfill the other elements of the discipline issued Tuesday, they would be eligible to play in the postseason contest.
Other disciplined players whose involvement in the incident wasn’t determined until after they participated in the first Oxford Hills game would be subject to sitting out the playoff rematch Friday night.
“There may be students who were involved that the [first Oxford Hill] game that they sat out was that part of the punishment, but they’re ineligible for extracurriculars until they meet the four components,” Butler said.
“It’s possible that they would be eligible to participate [Friday night],” he added.
The locker-room incident reportedly took place after practice last Thursday, and upon learning of the situation, Hackett notified Bangor athletic administrator Steve Vanidestine.
Vanidestine and assistant principals Timothy Reed and Brian Doyle spent much of Friday and Monday interviewing team members and staff, leading to Tuesday’s decision.
“The challenge is certainly to appropriately respond and to teach,” said Butler, “not to over-respond, certainly never to under-respond, but to respond consistent with our practices after a thorough review, and I feel we’ve done that.”
In addition to the one-game suspension and one-day suspension from the school campus, the disciplined student-athletes face a supervised one-day in-school suspension and are required to fulfill an educational component related to the incident.
“The obvious learning we want to occur is understanding the situations where what’s described as fooling around and not intending to harm can cross over into hazing,” said Butler. “Consistently the students involved indicated there was no intent to harm and, indeed, on the other side there were no injuries and students aren’t identifying themselves as victims of hazing, but that doesn’t excuse us from responding.
“The educational component is to teach and reflect on how horsing around, fooling around, can cross over, and what’s appropriate and what’s inappropriate,” he said. “Those are valuable lessons to teach and internalize.”