Players rally to keep Tri-State football coach following alleged hazing incident
CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Nearly 1,000 people have signed a petition to bring back the head coach for the Western Hills/Dater football team after he was fired Thursday as police investigate a hazing incident involving players.
A rally was held Friday night with students and players in pursuit of the same aim.
Coach Armand Tatum is relieved of his duties, and the Western Hills/Dater football program is on pause following a video of the hazing incident circulating social media.
A group of football players is seen in the video trying to pull down another boy’s pants, according to the Cincinnati police’s report.
The boy cries out for help while being held by his arms and legs as the other players pull his pants down.
Some think Tatum being let go by Western Hills/Dater High Schools is not the right decision.
The petition urging the school to reinstate Tatum as head coach already has almost 1,000 signatures, including Yumiko Scott’s.
Her sons played football for the now-former head coach when they were in high school.
Scott says Tatum played an important part in her sons’ lives.
“The program, for them, coming into Cincinnati, Ohio, as a single mom, honestly I was scared of losing my kids to the streets being honest because we come from the country, but just getting to know the coaches, and especially coach Tatum, it was a major turnaround for my kids,” said Scott.
Javonte Freemen is a player who praised Tatum Friday night at the protest.
“Helped a lot of us get out of trouble and helped us become men,” Freeman said.
Christian Phillips is another player who supports Tatum, though he says what happened in the video is wrong.
“We most definitely failed him as a football team,” Phillips said. “I 100 percent say that we stand with him for sure, because it shouldn’t of happened to no one. I’m really sorry that it happened to him.”
Phillips said he feels guilty about it.
“Maybe if I had been there earlier and if I would have been a voice and if I would have spoke up, it could have possibly never happened,” he said.
The players at the protest said Tatum shouldn’t be punished because he didn’t know what was going on.
“Us football players, we tend to hide stuff like that from the coaches. They really hid it away from them,” Phillips said.
The players involved in the incident will receive “appropriate disciplinary consequences,” according to the letter from principals.
Students who shared the video will also be disciplined, the letter states.
The Cincinnati Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Section is investigating, according to a CPD spokesperson.
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