AGAWAM -- Schools Superintendent Mary A. Czajkowski today decided that a hazing incident involving members of the high school football team did not warrant canceling the Thanksgiving Day game with historic rival West Springfield.
Czajkowski did order the shutdown of a bonfire scheduled for Wednesday night. She also barred four of the team's seven coaches from being on the sidelines on Thursday, including head coach Mike Peterson.
She also said four members of the football team remain, who were suspended for 10 days last week, will not be allowed to play on Thursday because they will still be serving their suspensions.
A pep rally, however, will be held as planned as will a traditional luncheon between players and coaches from the two teams that is hosted by the local chapter of the Rotary club, she said.
Czajkowski announced her decision at an afternoon press conference attended by Peterson, Mayor Mayor Richard A. Cohen, and high school principal Steven Lemanski.
Peterson told reporters that he did not know about any kind of hazing involving his team, but said he accepts Czajkowski's ban. He said he will attend the game with the superintendent on Thursday.
Czajkowski began investigating the allegations of reports of hazing between older and younger members of the football team, which took place late Wednesday afternoon in the locker room after practice.
"It went beyond towel whipping,'' Czajkowski said this afternoon. She did not elaborate.
Czajkowski has said officials believe seven players were targets of the hazing. No one was reported injured.
The head coach of the West Springfield football team, Chad LaBonte, was not immediately available today. He said over the weekend that the cancellation would be a major disappointment for his players.
Czajkowski said this weekend that school officials and police are investigating.
“When a crime is committed, I need to enforce the law,’’ she said. “It’s an unfortunate situation, not just for our students but for our high school.’’
On the beat
Columnist Shirley Leung says Boston mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh should focus on middle-class housing. Read more