The football season at Niles North High School in near-north suburban Skokie, Illinois, has been suspended until further notice, as school officials and police investigate what is being described as a “possible hazing” incident, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Although the investigation is ongoing and specific details of the incident remain confidential, officials did say it concerns only the varsity football team.
Niles North Principal James Edwards addressed families:
This note is to alert you to a possible hazing incident at Niles North High School. Following my note is a statement that District 219 will be issuing about this matter. I am sharing this information with you so that you are aware of it, because we have zero tolerance for hazing, bullying or other forms of harassment. Please feel free to share this information with your son or daughter.
Even though this will be a difficult time for our school, I believe that if we pull together and work to act upon the principle that we treat each other with the respect and dignity we all deserve, Niles North will become an even stronger school community.
District 219 Statement: Niles North Varsity Football Operations Suspended
Niles North High School has been made aware of allegations of a possible hazing incident involving the Varsity Football Team. Over the weekend, school officials took immediate action based on the reports received. The school immediately notified the Skokie Police Department, and Niles North is working in conjunction with Skokie Police during this investigation.
Because this is a matter under investigation, Niles North will suspend its Varsity Football operations until further notice.
“The safety and security of our students is our top priority,” said Niles North Principal James Edwards. “We have zero tolerance of hazing or even the threat of it. Because this is a matter that involves student confidentiality, we ask that our students and families be patient as the investigation unfolds.”
“I think there has been a lot of speculation and gossip,” the Tribune quoted a student as saying. “I think it’s a little obscene that it’s garnered this much media attention considering that it is right now under investigation. There have been no public reports on the nature of the incidents.”
Other students also had their doubts that any actual hazing had occurred.
“In my opinion, I don’t think it was really an act of hazing,” WLS-TV (ABC affiliate) quoted a recent graduate of the high school as saying. “I think it was just, like, my teammates being immature. I played with them last year. We goofed off a lot, I’m not going to lie. It’s just part of it. It’s part of high school, obviously.”
The suspension of the season will potentially have a negative impact on seniors who may have been hoping to win a football scholarship for college.
“Personally, I don’t think they should have suspended them,” one student was quoted as saying. “This is a very big moment in most seniors’ lives. I think they should have thought about it a little more before issuing a suspension.”
While some parents said they found it difficult to believe anyone on the football team would have engaged in hazing behavior, given the strong discouragement of it by coaches, others weren’t surprised at all by the claims. It “has happened in … other places, so why couldn’t it happen here?” one parent was quoted as saying.
The Niles North varsity football team has the following games scheduled:
- September 29, 7 PM, Maine South
- October 6, 7:30, at New Trier
- October 13, 7:30, Niles West (homecoming)
- October 20, 7:30, at Evanston Township