FARMINGVILLE, N.Y. — The head coach of a suburban New York high school where a teenager died after a log fell on his head in a football training drill will be reassigned, the school district announced.
Sachem Schools Superintendent Kenneth Graham said coach Mark Wojciechowski and another member of the coaching staff are being reassigned pending an investigation into the Aug. 10 death of 16-year-old Joshua Mileto.
The tragedy has raised questions about the appropriateness of such training for high school players. Experts have said such vigorous training techniques are usually reserved for Navy SEALs, although some college football teams have also used log training.
Wojciechowski has not commented since Mileto’s death; he did not respond to a telephone message left for him Friday.
Graham said Anthony Gambino has been named interim head coach.
The accident occurred during a six-week preseason camp on school grounds on eastern Long Island. Hundreds of people attended a funeral service for Mileto on Tuesday. A GoFundMe page set up for his family had raised more than $83,000 as of Friday afternoon.
District spokeswoman Deirdre Gilligan said after some debate among administrators, school officials have decided to move forward with the football season. The school had considered canceling the season.
She said, however, that a planned weeklong training trip next week to a camp in the upstate New York Catskill mountains had been canceled.
A police spokesman says the death has preliminarily been deemed accidental, although the investigation was ongoing.
Sports safety expert Douglas Casa has questioned the wisdom of having teenagers perform an exercise that involves carrying a heavy object and that was developed for Navy SEALs, “potentially a very different clientele.” Some websites have indicated SEALs carry logs weighing half as much as what the high school players reportedly were carrying.
“There’s so much potential for things to go wrong that I would really want people to think twice before doing something like that,” said Casa, executive director of the University of Connecticut’s Korey Stringer Institute, which works to improve safety for athletes.