WRENTHAM - The entire King Philip Regional High School football program is under investigation for hazing, school officials said.
In a letter to families, Superintendent Rich Drolet and Principal Nicole Bottomley said the investigation found that the upperclassmen forced 10th grade players to fight each other in boxing matches they set up during football camp in Maine.
Officials said the camp took place at Camp Mataponi in Naples from Aug. 22 to 27.
Administrators say they found out about the "troubling and disappointing" incident after camp ended.
The investigation started with students and families and went all the way up to the varsity head coach. The Wrentham Police Department was also informed of the incident.
No coaches were present during the fights, and no one was hurt.
That's why parents like Joe Obin say the investigation is an overreaction. His son used to play football in the program, and another will join next year.
"I think it's over the top, I think people are way overreacting," said Obin. "I'm sure none of these kids are trained boxers so no one is out there throwing punches like Evander Holyfield, I would be more concerned with them hitting each other and head injuries due to football rather than some boxing matches at camp."
But some students, like the KP class president say it's concerning because of the risk to players.
"It's unfortunate to hear. It's not a good look for the team obviously I don't think this was a majority of the kids at all," said Ian Knott. "Obviously, you don't want people picking on people and if these kids were uncomfortable doing this then that's obviously wrong, but even if they were comfortable, I think it's a risk to injury and that alone should be a reason not to do it."
School officials said the allegations alone meet the legal definition of hazing and are against school policies.
In the letter to the school community the administrators said, "We will not tolerate any form of bullying, harassment or hazing. We will aim to foster an inclusive, welcoming environment and the actions of those at the football camp completely contradict the work we are trying to do."
Students added that the allegations are not consistent with the culture of the school and student body.
"Very one-off event, pretty much everyone gets along, and I've really heard of no incidents of bullying across the school, I was very surprised to hear of this," said Knott. "I hope that we have learned from our mistakes and that this won't happen again."
Now coaches, captains and players will have mandatory special training under the guidance of the MIAA and outside organizations.
The school district said it's evaluating whether it will approve any offsite camps in the future.
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