Football

Seven high school football coaches lose jobs over allegations they made a Hebrew Israelite player eat a pizza that had contained pork

Seven high school football coaches lose jobs over allegations they made a Hebrew Israelite player eat a pizza that had contained pork

Seven of eight Ohio high school football coaches who allegedly forced a Hebrew Israelite player to eat a pizza that previously had pork on it, despite knowing his beliefs forbade him from eating it, have been fired, according to the Canton City School District and the student’s lawyer.

They had all been previously suspended. It is unclear if the eighth coach has been exonerated of wrongdoing or if will face any further disciplinary action from the district. Local police are investigating the incident.

Following the district’s own investigation, the Canton City Board of Education voted unanimously during a special meeting Thursday evening to not renew the contracts of head football coach Marcus Wattley and the six other coaches, the board wrote in a community-wide letter.

The 17-year-old student, who hasn’t been named, is a rising senior at Canton McKinley High School, where he was an offensive lineman on the football team. After skipping an earlier weightlifting session because of an injury, the team’s coaches told him to eat an entire pepperoni pizza as punishment on May 24, while his teammates were forced to carry heavy weight disks as they exercised around him, attorney Edward Gilbert told CNN.

The teenager reminded the head coach multiple times that he did not eat pork. The student had previously told coaching staff multiple times that he was a Hebrew Israelite, and did not eat pork because of his religion, the attorney added.

“It is our contention that the coach was fully aware of this and intentionally ordered a pork pizza for this punishment,” Gilbert said.

After the coaches yelled at him and threatened the team with more exercises, the student was allowed to take off the pepperoni slices and some of the cheese and subsequently ate the pizza, despite considering it still unclean because of pork residue, according to the attorney.

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