Psychologist: Allowing Lake Zurich players to compete in playoffs after incident unprecedented

Lake Zurich football coach David Profitt was suspended from the team's playoff game (Photo: Twitter screen shot)

Lake Zurich football coach David Profitt was suspended from the team’s playoff game (Photo: Twitter screen shot)

A psychologist who has served as the expert witness in a number of hazing related cases has found the punishment levied by Lake Zurich officials before the team’s playoff game to be potentially unprecedented.

As reported by the Chicago Tribune, the decision by Lake Zurich officials to allow all team members to compete — provided they and their parents signed an agreement committing them to a hazing prevention course, 10 hours of community service and preparing a presentation on hazing and bullying for middle schoolers — is a truly novel approach, and not necessarily in a good way relative to increasing individual accountability among high school students.

“You don’t give a punishment before you understand the crime,”Susan Lipkins told the Tribune. “I’m surprised the school feels they can move ahead and allow the kids to play and sort of give a blanket consequence without investigating thoroughly what happened.”

Precisely such an investigation is ongoing, and being overseen jointly by Lake Zurich police and the Lake County state’s attorney’s office. Still, such a quick turnaround on the spot has raised eyebrows and inspired some on the team to refuse to sign the agreement, opting to sit out the playoff loss in the stands according to a Lake Zurich source who spoke to USATODAY High School Sports on the condition of anonymity.

In the meantime, concerns continue to mount about whether Lake Zurich acted responsibly or rushed to an inappropriately lenient penalty because of the limited time between the first knowledge of the incident and the team’s appearance in the state playoffs.