The Auburn Police Department has started an investigation into a hazing incident at Auburn Mountainview High School involving the school’s junior varsity football team.
“We are investigating a hazing incident that happened between football players at the Mountainview High School,” said Kolby Crossley, public information officer for the police department on Oct. 25.
Crossley said Auburn police first received report of the incident on Oct. 20.
“Student safety is our highest priority,” said Vicki Alonzo, executive director of the Auburn School District’s communications department. “Hazing behavior will not be tolerated and we are reviewing our procedures to prevent future incidents.”
The students responsible for the incident were suspended and removed from the football team, according to Alonzo’s email.
According to Alonzo, school staff learned of the hazing incident late Oct. 19, involving students on the junior varsity football team.
There are several victims, with the school providing support to victims, Alonzo said in her email.
Auburn police are in the early stages of investigating the incident, Crossley said. Auburn police are currently taking statements, witness reports, and looking into the possibilities of video footage of the incident, whether from surveillance videos or students potentially videotaping the incident on their phones.
All involved in the incident were minors, Crossley said.
As of Oct. 25, Crossley said the Auburn Police Department’s investigation into the incident is too early to clarify it as investigation of sexual assault. Currently, Auburn police are investigating it as a hazing incident, Crossley said.
“It’s not saying that it is or isn’t [sexual assault], it’s just that we’re not there yet,” Crossley said.
Auburn Mountainview Principal Terri Herren, athletic director Chris Carr, and head football coach Kent Rodseth sent an email to parents of junior varsity football students on the evening of Oct. 22, informing parents of the situation and the steps being taken to address the incident.
“We wanted to inform you about a recent incident that came to our attention on Thursday evening (Oct. 19) regarding hazing among our JV football players in the JV locker room,” according to the email. “As soon as we were made aware of the situation, we initiated an immediate investigation.”
According to the email, in response to the incident, the school suspended multiple players from the school and from football for the remainder of the football season.
The school additionally implemented measures including having coaches “regularly” be in the locker rooms as athletes change before and after practice, and having no athletes be allowed in a locker room without a coach present.
All athletes in the Auburn Mountainview High School football program will also be required to complete a leadership and a bullying, harassment and hazing program with the National Federation of State High School Associations — a national organization for high school athletics and performing arts activities — in order to finish in good standing and participate in future sports programs at the school, according to the email.
“We want to assure you that we are committed to thoroughly investigating this matter and we welcome any information or input from the players involved,” the email stated. “We take this issue very seriously and are deeply concerned that it was not reported earlier. … We greatly appreciate your support during this challenging time, and we want to assure you that we are fully committed to completing this investigation.”
The Auburn Mountainview High School football team canceled its game on Oct. 28 against Tahoma.
“We are canceling Saturday’s game [vs.] Tahoma due to the limited number of eligible players in our football program,” said Carr, athletic director at the school, in an email to the Auburn Reporter.
“All I can share is that we will not have enough players to play a week 10 game even if we had made the playoffs,” Carr said in a second email.
Carr declined to say how many players were suspended or how many players remained eligible.
Both the Auburn Police Department’s and the Auburn School District’s investigations into the incident continue.