A day before a scheduled game against Sanford, Maine rival South Portland’s entire football team was absconded away from the school fields and put through extensive questioning about allegations of drug use and hazing. The incident was allegedly sparked by reports that older players on the team were forcing their younger counterparts to take illicit substances, with “pills in the locker room” mentioned to the administration by the school’s football coach, Steve Stinson
According to the Bangor Daily News and Gannett TEGNA partner WCSH, among other sources, when the South Portland team was taken away from the practice field authorities broke up the group and questioned each player individually. Among the school leaders questioning the players were South Portland Principal Ryan Caron and Athletic Director Todd Livingston, among other administrators. The Portland Press-Herald reported that the grilling lasted more than five hours with players forced to hand over their cell phones at the outset of the interrogation.
That practice in particular has earned scorn from some of the players’ parents, who claim that they had no idea where their children were and why they weren’t answering their phones. Utter confusion reigned because no parents or players were informed that such a session was in the works. In fact, confusion may continue for some time ahead, as the student athletes were reportedly warned not to discuss the questioning, what they were asked or other aspects of the meeting, or risk suspension for doing so.
“We felt this was something that needed to be looked at very carefully and in a fair but quick manner,” South Portland superintendent Ken Kunin told the Press Herald. “The only fair thing to do was to question everyone.
“Sometimes in the in-between we can’t share everything. But they should know that we’re taking the steps necessary to keep students safe.”
While a number of South Portland parents were upset with the tactics employed in the investigation, the line of questioning did earn results: The Press Herald reported that one player was suspended following the questioning before Friday night’s game. The identity of the player was not revealed, nor were the formal reasons for his suspension.
With one player out, the rest of the team was still scheduled to compete against Sanford on Friday night, taking South Portland’s perfect 2-0 record and a tumultuous week on to the field.