A Green Country football team will take the field Friday without its head coach and four players. They were all kicked out of the program for hazing at Oklahoma Union, near the Kansas state line.
The students were also expelled, and deputies are now investigating the incident.
Something happened in the football locker room at Oklahoma Union high school and Superintendent Kevin Stacy said the school has done all it can do to discipline the students, but believes whatever happened could lead to criminal charges.
It wasn't a cloudy afternoon that was casting shadows over Oklahoma Union's football field Thursday, but a hazing incident that has those around South Coffeyville talking.
“All bullying is a serious case,” Stacy said.
He said someone reported on Monday that a student had been hazed in the football locker room, and Stacy wasted no time launching an investigation.
“Based off the investigation we took appropriate disciplinary action with the students and coaching staff,” he said.
Stacy said head coach, Rich Giesen, claimed he didn't know anything about the incident, yet Stacy asked for Giesen to resign as head coach, and he agreed, though he'll continue teaching math for the district.
“I'm not saying he should have known it was going on, but maybe had protocols in place that it wouldn't have happened,” said Stacy.
Stacy said he doesn't believe the victim was physically injured, but because all students involved are under 18, Stacy wouldn't get into details about the allegations.
Whatever it was prompted the school to expel four football players, while the Nowata County Sheriff's Office determines whether the hazing was criminal.
TESS: “At what point does it escalate to where to you need to call in the Sheriff's office?”
STACY: “When we think there's a crime been committed. That's the main difference. It's my duty to let the authorities know, if I think a crime could have been committed.”
The sheriff's office is in the beginning stages of its investigation, so deputies couldn't comment.
Stacy hopes expelling the athletes involved will be a lesson to keep other students from hazing; but in the meantime, he plans to bring in an anti-bullying specialist.
Oklahoma Union's football game Friday night in Pawhuska is still a go. The superintendent said the Cougars' coaching staff will just be slightly altered.