Agawam Thanksgiving football game in jeopardy after possible hazing

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November 21, 2010, 8:25 pm

(NECN: Alysha Palumbo - Agawam, MA) - It's the biggest football game of the year for Agawam High School and they may not even take the field.

Agawam is scheduled to play rival West Springfield in the annual Thanksgiving Day game, but the team is involved in a serious hazing investigation.

Superintendent Mary Czajkowski said, "Hazing is a crime and our job is to ensure the protection of our children. This is a very, very unfortunate situation, I'm saddened by it, I'm disappointed by it."

Czajkowski says after an extensive investigation by the school, four football players have been suspended for ten days and four football coaches - including the head coach - have been placed on administrative leave.

She says, "I'm concerned about what actions they either did take or did not take in this investigation."

The alleged hazing incident happened after football practice this past Wednesday here in Agawam High School's boys' locker room. But the superintendent won't be specific about what actually happened.

"Based on the evidence that we had coming forward from statements from students that were either a witness or an actual alleged victim, those kinds of behaviors indicated it was hazing," said Czajkowski.

Czajkowski says evidence shows there were seven alleged victims and numerous witnesses, and she needs to determine what was or wasn't done to stop the alleged hazing.

She said, "We're taking this very seriously, these allegations, I think we have clearly outlined for both coaches and players the hazing rules, they've been informed, they've had to sign off on these."

She says she has consulted with Needham High School's superintendent, who recently had to deal with a similar hazing suspension for girls soccer playoffs.

Czajkowski says while all Thanksgiving week events - including the game, bonfire, and pep rally - remain on hold, she will further interview coaches Monday to make her final decision.

She said, "I can assure the public and the community that I'm doing everything I can to preserve that day. I know how traditionally important that it. I was a coach myself and I will have a decision by the close of the day tomorrow."

The MIAA and the Agawam Police Department are also investigating the alleged hazing incident.

Tags: Football, thanksgiving, suspended, coaches, Alysha Palumbo, Agawam, players
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