The incident in question took place on 24 May, when a 17-year-old pupil at Canton’s McKinley Senior High School says coaches forced him to eat a pepperoni pizza as punishment for skipping a voluntary workout due to injury.
Head football coach Marcus Wattley and seven assistant coaches were suspended over the allegations last week by the Canton City School District, reported The Canton Repository.
Ed Gilbert, a lawyer for the student who has not been named, said on Tuesday that the teen and his family are members of the Hebrew Israeli religious faith and that “everyone on the team knows this child will not eat pork”.
He said the teen, who skipped a voluntary workout four days earlier while nursing a sore shoulder, was ordered to sit in the middle of the gym and eat an entire pepperoni pizza. The attorney said the student was allowed to remove the pepperoni and some of the cheese, but pork residue remained.
Mr Gilbert said that the young player would have been subjected to additional drills and his status on the team might have been jeopardised if he had not followed Mr Wattley’s order.
The attorney told local media that to say the coach used poor judgment would be an “understatement” and the incident was humiliating for the teenager. They now plan to file a lawsuit.
Canton City Schools Superintendent Jeff Talbert announced the suspension of the coaches last week but declined to comment about the allegations made on Tuesday by Gilbert and the teen’s family.
The Canton City School District last week, in a post on Facebook, said: “The safety and wellbeing of our students is our top priority.
“The incident calls into question whether appropriate team management, discipline, and player accountability infrastructures are in place. The district is nearing the completion of its investigation regarding this incident. Once a conclusion is reached, in accordance with our commitment to transparency, the district will provide additional information,” the post said.
Additional reporting by agencies
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