BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A Florida high school’s football team was rattled with changes over the last several days after a viral video prompted a hazing investigation, according to WESH.
On Monday night, Viera High School football players and parents attended a meeting about the next steps. The school’s superintendent says they’re “not about canceling the season,” but players don’t know when they’ll take the field next.
“We’re not about canceling the season. That’s not the goal. That’s not why we had the meeting tonight,” Superintendent Mark Rendell said.
The superintended told parents the season was “on pause,” not canceled.
“The meeting was to ensure that we can move forward with the right protocols in place, with the right education and training in place to make sure what happened last week does not ever happen again,” he added.
According to WESH, Rendell said two things need to happen before the football season can resume: “the culture and climate of the team need to change, and their investigation into the incident needs to be completed.”
The news outlet reported that players will patriciate in an online anti-hazing program Tuesday as part of the process to return to football season. Coaches will also get some education and training as well.
“The parents were supportive of going through the training and doing the right thing before we came back. I didn’t know how that was going to be taken,” said Matt Susin, the chairman of the school board.
Susin added that while the football coach has been fired from his coaching position, he remains a PE Teacher. He said he was afraid parents would “push back on the coach being removed,” according to WESH.
As of now, the district says no decision has been made on if the team will play Friday’s game, which is the school’s season opener. WESH said the school is aiming to finish the investigation into what happened Wednesday.
According to Susin, the viral video in question allegedly shows several members of the Viera football team – some still in practice uniforms – hazing a “fellow underclassman player inappropriately.”
Some students were also suspended following the alleged incident, WESH stated.
“We’ve fired the head coach. We’ve removed the head coach, and we’ve taken the kids. We are going to send them off to an Alternative Learning Center and expulsion,” Susin said.
While the season is on hold, Susin shared that the district is hopeful the Viera community can positively move forward from this situation.
“I would ask that everybody understands that 99.9% of the program had nothing to do with this. You have to look at the cheerleaders, the band members and the away teams that have to play us,” he added.
According to WESH, the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Monday that they’re involved in a criminal investigation looking into what happened in the video. Authorities said the incident in the video happened on Aug. 14.