FAIRHAVEN, MASS. (WHDH) - A number of Massachusetts high school hockey players have been banned from competing for the remainder of the 2021-2022 season following an investigation into a reported hazing incident, education officials announced Monday.

An investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding accusations of hazing involving the Old Rochester/Fairhaven co-op boys hockey team found that hazing did occur and that multiple members of the team violated school policies, Old Rochester Regional School District Superintendent Michael Nelson and Fairhaven Public Schools Superintendent Tara Kohler said in a joint news release.

On Oct. 19, a staff member at ORRHS shared concerns with administrators regarding a video that was circulating among students showing a member of the hockey team apparently being subjected to an act of hazing by teammates, the superintendents said. An investigation was launched immediately and administrators met with multiple students and their parents to determine the facts of what occurred. 

The investigation reportedly found that a student-athlete on the hockey team was the victim of hazing carried out by multiple teammates on Oct. 17 in the locker room of Gallo Ice Arena in Bourne. The team was participating in an independent event that had been organized by a parent, and no athletic staff or coaches from either school were involved or present.

The students found to have participated in the hazing have been identified and will be banned from participation on the hockey team through the end of the current season, a course of action that’s said to be consistent with both schools’ student handbooks.

Investigators were also able to identify a number of student witnesses to the hazing. 

“This is a deeply disappointing and troubling incident. We expect our students to treat each other with kindness and respect at all times, both inside and outside of school,” Superintendent Nelson said. “An ORRHS staff member did the right thing by bringing their concerns to the attention of our administrators so that it could be appropriately investigated and addressed. We will be working to ensure our students understand the impact their behavior has on others so that incidents like this do not happen again.”

Superintendent Kohler added, “I was upset to learn of this incident, but am confident that this investigation was a thorough examination of what occurred. “Athletic and co-curricular activities are meant to be enriching experiences for our students, and we will not tolerate hazing in any of our programs.  I am hopeful that this incident will serve as a reminder to all that we expect everyone in our school community to act with respect and integrity at all times.”

Both school districts say they will be conducting additional training with all student-athletes and coaches on recognizing, preventing, and responding to hazing.

The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association has been notified of the incident.

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