A Pittsburgh-area baseball program has been thrown into chaos by allegations of hazing and drinking on a team trip to Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex, with the team’s coach already resigning as a result.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, among other sources, Ringgold baseball coach Jim Coulter tendered his resignation on Thursday night as an ongoing investigation into reported drinking and hazing activities during a booster-sponsored trip in March continued. Coulter has insisted that he did nothing wrong but felt obligated to resign as a duty, “like any good leader.” No announcement about his replacement has been made, and the program has temporarily suspended all games until Coulter’s replacement is identified and more resolution is provided for the ongoing investigations.
While no official details of the purported hazing incidents have been verified, both Coulter, one of the team’s players and a parent all alluded to impromptu wrestling matches that occurred between players, with the losers required to perform a task of the winner’s choosing. Per the Post-Gazette, one those “tasks” included one case of wearing a Speedo bathing suit and another of kissing the winner’s bare buttocks. Nothing more extreme has come to light as of yet.
Meanwhile, Coulter has complained of a witch hunt and persistent finger pointing following a trip in which he and just two assistants were asked to chaperone 28 teenage student athletes. That ratio also came into play when Coulter provided an explanation for the two students who were allegedly caught consuming alcohol, which the coach reported was provided by players from another school who were also staying at the same hotel.
“You know how boys are boys,” Coulter told the newspaper. “Things went, I guess, a little too far for certain kids. I didn’t promote it. There was no harm, no foul. You didn’t want to do something, you didn’t do it. It’s a bad situation. But also the school district put me there with 28 kids and two coaches. You can’t be everywhere at once.”
Despite Coulter’s protestations, Ringgold athletic director Laura Grimm insisted that the safety of all student athletes was the school’s top priority, while one baseball parent who spoke with the Post-Gazette was adamant Coulter deserved to be held responsible for failing to keep his charges out of harm’s way.
“Somebody had to be responsible and know what these kids were doing at all times,” Keith Feld told the Post-Gazette. Coulter, “was sent down as the supervisor of these kids, to look after them, to protect them. They weren’t sent down for a wrestling trip; they were sent down to play baseball.
“What should have turned out to be a good, enjoyable experience for everybody turned out to be a calamity. We’re lucky some kid didn’t get hurt”
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh TV network WPXI reported that Ringgold players were circulating and signing a petition to have Coulter reinstated. There is no word about when the teens anticipate delivering the petition, or how the school district may respond.