Hazing allegations involving Hoffman Estates team forces canceled game

Officials in Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 canceled a basketball game Friday as they investigated allegations of hazing involving the Hoffman Estates boys varsity team.

The revelations surfaced Friday night after the scheduled game between Hoffman Estates and Schaumburg was canceled. District administrators learned of the hazing allegations Friday afternoon and “conducted an immediate and thorough investigation involving all team members and the coach,” said Tom Petersen, the school district's spokesman.

“Because of the time involved in conducting these interviews and the information we discovered in our investigation, we canceled the game scheduled for Friday evening,” Petersen said.

Petersen declined to detail the nature of the hazing, how many incidents took place, when they occurred, or whether any took place on school grounds. He also didn't say if the hazing was coordinated by one or more players, but he did say the district's investigation involved all 14 players on the team.

Petersen said Head Coach Luke Yanule did not know about the alleged hazing and had no involvement in it. Yanule couldn't be reached for comment Friday night.

Upon finding out about the allegations, school district officials contacted the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Hoffman Estates Police Department, though no charges have been filed at this point, Petersen said. The police could not confirm Friday night they were notified.

Superintendent Nancy Robb and Principal Jim Britton met with members of the basketball team and their parents Friday to “inform them of our findings,” Petersen said.

A team of 15 school personnel were involved in the investigation, including nine who conducted interviews, Petersen said.

The district's investigation into the matter is complete, Petersen said, and officials are now looking into whether to take any disciplinary action against team members.

The news comes as another Northwest suburban high school, Maine West, is embroiled in a hazing scandal. Four students — one freshman baseball player and three freshmen soccer players — say they were sexually assaulted as part of hazing that took place in 2007, 2008 and this year.

Documents obtained from Des Plaines police outline reports of repeated hazing of freshman members of the varsity boys soccer team this year. In some cases, head soccer coach Michael Divincenzo, also the baseball coach in 2008, is alleged to have witnessed and sanctioned the hazing, according to the documents.

The accusations have led to six juveniles being charged with battery and hazing in the 2012 case, and a lawsuit has been filed against District 207, Maine West, its administrators, coaches and staff by the families of four victims. The district's own investigation has led officials to develop a new policy on hazing.

Friday an announcement was posted on the websites of District 211, and Hoffman Estates and Schaumburg high schools Friday afternoon that the basketball game that evening was canceled and would be rescheduled with a date and time forthcoming. A sign was also posted outside the gym at Hoffman Estates.

Schaumburg Head Coach Matt Walsh said earlier Friday he had “absolutely no idea” why the game was canceled.

“It wasn't anything on our end,” he said. “I really honestly don't know.”

Friday's game was to be first home game of the season for Hoffman Estates' basketball team, which played three games last week in a Thanksgiving holiday tournament at Crystal Lake Central.

An away game is scheduled for 6 p.m. today against Hersey, though it's unknown if that game will also be canceled.

The Illinois High School Association, which governs interscholastic athletic participation statewide, does not address hazing in its bylaws. But hazing is mentioned in its “Do What's Right” sportsmanship program.

One item on a list of benefits of the program on the Do What's Right Web page is: “The DWR! Program will enable the IHSA to develop resources for member schools on such topics as appropriate sportsmanship, health & wellness, and confronting hazing that they can use with their student populations.”

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