An Ohio head high school football coach and six assistant coaches were fired after a football player said he was forced to eat pork as punishment for missing a voluntary workout, violating his religious beliefs.
According to the Canton Repository, the Canton City Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday to not renew the contracts of head coach Marcus Wattley, two assistant football coaches and an assistant baseball. Three other assistant coaches were also voted ineligible for future coaching positions.
The seven coaches were previously suspended last week after the player reported the incident to the district. Another assistant coach was also suspended for his role in the incident, but will remain an assistant coach after the evidence showed that he did not behave in the same manner as the other coaches involved.
The player and his family are members of the Hebrew Israelite religious faith and do not eat pork in line with their beliefs. The family has retained a lawyer and plans on suing the school district. Wattley has also retained an attorney to oppose the allegations.
According to District superintendent Jeff Talbert, surveillance video showed enough for administrators to recommend the firings to the board. However, Wattley’s lawyer, Peter Pattakos, said the reported details of the events were exaggerated and partly false. According to Pattakos, the player could have left at any time and was offered alternatives to pork before he decided to take the pepperoni off a pizza and eat the pizza as punishment for missing the workout as he nursed a shoulder injury.