Sayreville Public Schools has parted ways with veteran high school head football coach George Najjar, whose program was embroiled in a hazing and sexual assault scandal that generated national headlines.
None of the seven Sayreville High School football players criminally charged in connection with the hazing and sexual assault of four teammates inside the team’s locker room will be tried as adults, according to the New York Daily News.
Gannett New Jersey newspapers, which include the Asbury Park Press, has been joined by other media organizations requesting access to juvenile court hearings for seven Sayreville High School students charged in a football hazing investigation.
Board President Kevin Ciak said the coaches were suspended with pay as pursuant to New Jersey state law. He declined to comment on how long the suspensions, effective Oct. 16, would last.
With the Sayreville Board of Education expected to deliberate tonight on the suspensions of embattled head football coach George Najjar and four assistants, many of the veteran mentor’s supporters are expected to rally to his defense.
Sayreville head football coach George Najjar and four of his assistants, all of whom are employed as educators in the district, have been suspended with pay from their coaching and tenured teaching positions, according to a source who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Attitudes have evolved over the years, but the Sayreville scandal — in which upperclassmen were charged with sexual assault and other felonies — is shining a bright spotlight on ritual mistreatment of freshmen and newcomers.
“This was an awfully stigmatizing event for these freshman,” Christie said Wednesday night on the “Ask the Governor” program on New Jersey 101.5. “Obviously it went on for quite some time without anyone coming forward. We need to make sure we look at this very, very carefully and not allow anyone involved in this conduct to get off without accountability.”
The head coach of a borough Pop Warner team on Wednesday defended his decision to allow a player on the high school’s embattled football team to participate in a game Sunday.
How would you define hazing? Have you ever been hazed? What do you think crosses the line from a prank into criminal or deviant behavior? Share your story and tell us what you think on our Facebook page.
The big question lurks beneath the surface. If we don’t address it, a version of this tragedy is going to happen again in some other locker room, perhaps many more.
Kyle Flood is coaching three Sayreville High School football alumni but the Rutgers football coach shares the same reaction as most of the general public when he hears new developments in the alleged hazing and sexual assault scandal.
As the Sayreville High School football team’s locker-room abuse scandal continues to make national news, the Penn State University football program has pulled its scholarship offer from Bombers senior Myles Hartsfield, Rivals.com reported Monday morning.
It’s not such a silly question now. Not after the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson scandals, the arrest Friday night of seven Sayreville high school football players on charges of hazing and sexually assaulting new teammates, the recent arrests of four Lakewood High School football players on armed robbery charges, and last weekend’s alleged assault of a Toms River youth coach by the father of a player, after the coach berated the team’s poor performance.
Sayreville Schools Superintendent Richard Labbe said he is considering suspending the high school football program beyond this season pending further information from the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, which Labbe said has indicated to him that harassment, intimidation and bullying may have taken place before this year in the Bombers’ locker room.
After seven Sayreville football players were charged in connection with the alleged hazing and sexual assaults of four teammates in the high school’s locker room, an organizer of a community vigil for the victims hopes the event can unite a town divided.
While the incidents that led to Sayreville’s decision to cancel its high school football season may not be publicly known, anti-bullying advocates say such intimidation and bullying in New Jersey schools and sports programs is an under-reported problem. In fact, one advocate — Dr. Stuart Green, director of the New Jersey Coalition for Bullying Awareness and Prevention — labels the numbers self-reported by school districts as so severely under-reported that they are “essentially fake.”
Citing substantial and credible evidence that the storied Sayreville football program was rife with pervasive and wide-scale incidents of alleged harassment, intimidation and bullying, the rest of the team’s 2014 season has been canceled. Schools Superintendent Rich Labbe made the announcement Monday during a meeting with parents at the high school.
This is a cautionary tale for our sports world gone mad — the delusional parents, the win-at-all-costs coaches and administrators, the athletes who think the basic rules of decency don’t apply. Consider yourselves forewarned: If they can shut down the football program at Sayreville, they can shut down any high school team, anywhere.
SI.com, citing sources, including one close to the investigation, reported that the substantiated allegations of pervasive and wide-scale incidents of harassment, intimidation and bullying within the program are lewd. “Investigators are looking into whether upperclassmen on the Sayreville football team digitally penetrated the underclassmen on the team,” SI.com reported.
News of the school district’s decision to cancel the Sayreville High School football season this year amid allegations of widespread harassment, intimidation and bullying has rocked the community with a loyal base of diehard fans. “I’m extremely surprised that something like this would happen here,” said Mary Ann Spisso, manager at the Brick House, where a buffet is served for coaches after the Bombers’ games.
“It would start with a howling noise from a senior football player at Sayreville War Memorial High School, and then the locker room lights were abruptly shut off,” NJ Adavance Media’s Matt Stanmyre reported. “In the darkness, a freshman football player would be pinned to the locker-room floor, his arms and feet held down by multiple upperclassmen. Then, the victim would be lifted to his feet while a finger was forced into his rectum. Sometimes, the same finger was then shoved into the freshman player’s mouth.”
NJSIAA Executive Director Steve Timko said on Wednesday, after the association’s monthly Executive Committee, he supports Sayreville Superintendent of Schools Dr. Richard Labbe’s decision to cancel the remainder of the Sayreville High School football program’s season.
There are many troubling details in the gruesome reports about the behavior that took place inside the Bombers’ locker room — the latest by NJ.com depicts something closer to sexual assault than bullying — but the most surprising is that nobody was minding the store.
“You want to teach kids how to operate properly and efficiently in a real positive and mentoring situation,” said Bob Ladouceur, assistant at De La Salle High School (Concord, Calif.). “I like our kids teaching other kids, but that has nothing to do with rituals. It has everything to do with making kids better and understanding what a true team does.”
At a press conference on an unrelated topic Thursday, Christie said, “The facts as reported currently are extraordinarily distrubing. The idea that that kind of conduct could be permitted, if it’s true, in a high school athletic program is absolutely unacceptable.”
Several former student-athletes who played for Najjar when he coached at Brooklyn’s Abraham Lincoln High School during the 1980s “recounted initiation rituals during preseason camp that included Animal House-style paddling of underclassmen by upperclassmen,” according to an NJ Advance Media report.
It’s all just so wrong, so warped, a myopic rock-headed view that extends from the professional ranks all the way down to youth travel teams. Giving rookies a few extra chores is one thing. But anything designed to intimidate or embarrass a high school athlete has no place on any team.
It boils down to this: Either they had knowledge of it and did nothing, or they didn’t know anything about what happened on their watch. Either way, that is unacceptable.