Starting back in the end of October and still going on today, Doylestown’s Central Bucks West High School has been making headlines because of their football team. Unlike back in the 90’s, it’s not in the news because of state titles and national rankings; this time it’s for alleged hazing accusations.
In October, the remainder of Central Bucks West football season was cancelled because of the allegations. The cancellation occurred right before the school’s homecoming game with rival school Central Bucks East. The hazing allegations were reported on Oct. 14; though the supposed hazing occurred during the team’s preseason.
According to Superintendent David Wetzel, the hazing consisted of new players having to grab other player’s genitals while fully clothed and what players described as “waterboarding.” When the investigation of the hazing occurred, Central Bucks Regional Police Department Chief James Donnelly denied that the players practiced waterboarding because he did not believe that placing towels over the players’ heads and taking them to the shower fit the definition of waterboarding.
In a letter, Wetzel has said, “Our inquiry determined that students new to the team were expected to participate in several initiations that were both humiliating and inappropriate. I want to be clear that these activities did not result in physical harm, but were not harmless.”
As a result of the hazing, the varsity and junior varsity coaches were all put on suspension, resulting in varsity coach Brian Hensel being terminated. The superintendent said it was because of the coaches’ lack of supervision of team activities. The coaches have defended this because the hazing routines supposedly took place during a parent led picnic on Aug. 16 for the team, in which the coaches were not required to be there. Just recently, the district decided to lift the suspension of the junior varsity coaches, but find a replacement for Hensel.
It has been a tough time for CB West and its community with the media exploding over this incident. During the media frenzy, Brian Hensel and former coach Mike Pettine voiced their opinions about the situation. You can read Hensel’s statement here, along with Pettine’s statement here. The outburst over the hazing has died down a little, but it is still present and now the team is being accused of racism playing a part.
The Intelligencer in Doylestown reported that Hensel had to meet with the school principal and athletic director this year because of alleged racial and ethnic bullying that took place during the 2013 season. These meetings were reported by a source with direct knowledge of the situation who wanted to remain anonymous. Also according to this source, Hensel and the other coaches were required to attend sensitivity training at the high school in April because of the bullying that occurred. Similarly to the hazing incident, Hensel supposedly knew of the bullying but did not report it.