In early November the Lake Zurich (Ill.) football program was plunged into crisis when the majority of its coaching staff was placed on paid administrative leave on the eve of a playoff game. Days later it emerged that the coaches had been suspended — and players forced to sign a strange contract before competing — due to a situation that emerged which was clearly similar in nature to hazing.
Now we appear to have a better idea of precisely what transpired to force the coaches to the sidelines … and eventually out of a job altogether. It certainly doesn’t sound pretty, either.
According to a federal lawsuit filed by two alleged victims of Lake Zurich hazing, the acts of hazing included forced sexual acts and have been occurring for a minimum of two decades, perhaps even longer.
“(The victims) were brutally mocked, teased, humiliated, embarrassed and emotionally harmed, all in the name of team bonding,” attorney Antonio Romanucci said at a Wednesday news conference announcing the suit, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The Tribune also offered these more explicit details about the acts of hazing:
While the lawsuit also redacts some passages describing the alleged acts, it says one boy was hazed in the shower and the other induced to perform an unspecified act on another player.
Broadly speaking, though, the lawsuit alleges some players have urinated on other members of the team, slapped them in the face with their genitals and forced teammates to perform oral sex on each other. Debasing acts have been part of a tradition known as “(Expletive) of the Week,” in which the names of targets were written on a prominently mounted locker room whiteboard, the lawsuit claims.
Critically, the lawsuit cites disturbing hazing events dating back to 1997, and that hazing at the school has not traditionally been limited to the football program, though the most disturbing incidents tended to originate from players on the gridiron.
While he is no longer the head coach there, longtime Lake Zurich head coach David Proffitt defended the actions of his staff and himself in a text message exchange with the Tribune.
“We have always tried to do the right thing in preparing (players) for life’s challenges, while keeping them and the program’s best interest at heart,” Proffitt wrote the Tribune. “In the 11 years I have been at LZ, anytime we felt that a player was being humiliated in any way what so ever, we stopped it & made sure those involved understood the wrong in what they were doing.”
Regarding claims that alleged hazing included forced oral sex, Proffitt wrote the Tribune: “Never did I know of anything like that taking place. … I am amazed that because of one or two individuals’ claims, the whole program & coaches are given a black eye.”