SAYREVILLE, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Some parents and students aren't happy after Sayreville High School officials canceled the entire football season amid hazing allegations.
Sayreville school officials made the announcement Monday night during a meeting with the parents of football players.
Superintendent Richard Labbe said there was "enough evidence to substantiate that there were incidences of harassment, intimidation and bullying" that took place "on a pervasive level, on a wide scale level and at a level which the players knew, tolerated and in general accepted."
"Based upon that information, we are canceling the remainder of the football season for the freshman, the junior varsity and varsity football programs," Labbe said.
School officials earlier declined to provide details of the allegations other than to describe them as "significant and serious" in nature. Labbe said some players engaged in what the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office considers criminal behavior.
Some Parents Upset After Sayreville High School Cancels Football Season Amid Allegations
He said the school first learned of the problem last week through an anonymous allegation made to the Sayreville Police Department.
"They informed me that upon preliminary investigation, the matter in the incidents that occurred or that were alleged to have occurred, were of such a serious nature that they were forced to turn the case over immediately to the office of the Middlesex County prosecutor," Labbe said.
Lowell Snare has covered high school football in N.J. every year going back to the 1960s and spoke with WCBS 880 Tuesday about the school's decision to forfeit the season.
"They have a great reputation and it's kind of a shock. This is something that I hope is just isolated cases of stupidity," he said.
Snare says there are no conference or state rules forcing the team to forfeit and that the president of the NJSIAA was quoted as saying there aren't any rules and it is left up to the individual school district to make the decision.
"What's fall in New Jersey without high school Friday night football?" Snare said.
Former Morris County Prosecutor Robert Bianchi told CBS 2's Christine Sloan that if the allegations are true some individuals could face mandatory prison time.
"Even though they are minors the prosecutor can make a decision at that point in time depending on the nature and quality of the conduct whether they want to waive those individuals to be treated as adults," he said.
Sayreville High School Cancels Football Season Amid Hazing Allegations
Some students said they are disappointed with the decision.
"It really sort of bugs me that I've now lost all of my football games and ultimately my homecoming," one male student told CBS 2's Diane Macedo.
"I feel like it's just blown out of proportion. I feel like maybe you can do something to the few kids that might have done something," one student told 1010 WINS' Al Jones.
Others, however, understood.
"Some people can say it's strict, but I understand that it has to be done," one student said.
"I don't think it's fair, but what choice did they really have?" another student said.
Some parents are wondering whether coaches or other supervisors looked the other way.
Some Parents, Students Upset After Sayreville High School Cancels Football Season Amid Hazing Allegations
"If it's true -- because you know, kids talk -- it's not appropriate, and I'm baffled that this would go on," said parent Jennifer Dino.
Some parents say cancelling the football season isn't fair to innocent players and students.
"The students can't play," one parent whose son is on the team told 1010 WINS' John Montone. "It's a ding on the entire community. It's a ding on the high school."
"For all of them, the ones who are innocent, to have this taken away from them, they're being punished for something they did not do," said another parent.
Eric Handy said her daughter, a cheerleader, is "devastated."
"She's very dedicated to the school and the students and the football players," Handy told Macedo. "So this is really affecting us."
The superintendent wouldn't comment on whether any personnel will be fired, but he said in addition to the criminal investigation, the school is also investigating to see if similar behavior took place within any other sports.
Sayreville's team has won three sectional titles over the past four years.
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