A history of hazing in suburban schools

Hazing among young athletes is in the news again, with revelations surrounding the Northwestern University football program leading to the firing last week of longtime head coach Pat Fitzgerald.

Such cases are nothing new in suburban locker rooms or on athletic fields. The following is a list of some notable hazing cases in our schools.

August 1996 - A group of Buffalo Grove High School freshmen were sprayed with condiments and cat litter, and at least one student had a hair-removal product put in his or her hair, after being summoned by older classmates to Nickel Knoll Golf Course in Arlington Heights. According to some accounts, the younger students also were splashed with urine. The event, later termed "an extreme case of hazing" by school officials, led to the suspension of more than a dozen students and the resignation of the sponsor of the BGettes drill team.

October 1996 - Three Prospect High School students were accused of holding down a teammate on the school's freshman football team in the locker room and sexually assaulting him with an object. The boys later were expelled from school and faced charges in juvenile court.

May 1997 - Four members of the Naperville Central High School track team were suspended for hazing a freshman classmate. They were accused of repeatedly slapping the stomach of the younger runner, leaving red marks and drawing blood.

April 1999 - A member of the Hinsdale Central High School baseball team was kicked off the squad and two others were suspended after they were charged with battery for hazing a younger teammate. The players were accused of holding down a sophomore student and cutting his hair.

August 1999 - Four varsity football players from Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire were accused of hazing members of the sophomore team by making them perform "atomic situps," which involve tricking the younger players into making indecent contact with other boys' buttocks. The older players later were charged with battery under Lincolnshire village ordinances.

October 2001 - More than a dozen Buffalo Grove High School students were suspended after upperclassmen were accused of taking younger students from an evening bonfire at the school to a parking lot off school property. While in the lot, the older kids smeared substances, officials said.

May 2003 - A video of hazing at an off-campus "powder puff" football event involving students from Glenbrook North High School in Northbrook showed senior girls throwing paint, urine, feces and animal parts on junior classmates. Some students were kicked and punched; several needed medical care. Fifteen students were charged with misdemeanor battery and 32 were suspended from school. Two mothers were charged with supplying alcohol to minors.

March 2010 - Five wrestlers from Prairie Ridge High School in Crystal Lake were charged with misdemeanor battery. Police said several wrestlers participated in hazing activities that included restraining teammates while they were slapped and groped through their clothing.

October 2012 - Six boys soccer players from Maine West High School in Des Plaines were charged with misdemeanor battery on allegations they hazed younger teammates. The charges were dropped later, but a soccer coach was charged with three misdemeanors: hazing, battery and failure to report abuse. A lawsuit that claimed older players sexually assaulted an underclassman, and that the team's coaches and school officials were aware of hazing activities, settled for $1 million.

November 2012 - Hoffman Estates High School canceled three boys basketball games after finding players had been hazed by teammates off-campus. Officials said the hazing was not sexual in nature, but involved several players piling atop a clothed player and engaging in "grabbing horseplay, slapping, and hitting the targeted player in areas that included the buttocks and sometimes in the groin."

November 2016 - Allegations of hazing within the powerhouse Lake Zurich High School football program surfaced just days before a scheduled state playoff game. A lawsuit later filed by two students contained allegations of hazing that included players urinating on teammates and placing their genitals on other players' faces without consent. The accusations and a subsequent investigation led to no criminal charges, but head football coach David Proffitt, assistant coach Chad Beaver and Athletic Director Rolando Vazquez all resigned. Lake Zurich Unit District 95 ultimately paid a nearly $400,000 legal settlement to the two students.

March 2017 - A football player at Wheaton College sues the college and several teammates, saying he was injured during a hazing incident the previous fall. According to the suit, the player was abducted from his dorm, bound with duct tape, repeatedly punched and kicked, and then left partially nude on a baseball field. The suit alleged hazing was common in the football program and that coaches and other officials ignored it. Five players pleaded guilty to charges ranging from battery to disorderly conduct, and the lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed sum.

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