BRUNSWICK, Maine — Brunswick High School announced its football program would resume in fall 2022. On Thursday morning, the school won its appeal to the Maine Principal’s Association’s Interscholastic Management Committee.
The program can now participate in the upcoming season and, should it qualify, in the playoffs.
Brunswick was appealing a rule in the MPA handbook that requires varsity teams that don’t complete their season to wait two years before competing again.
During the 2021 season, allegations of a hazing incident in August at a training camp for the team were brought to light, and Superintendent Phil Potenziano announced the cancelation of the last three games.
“Following the incident last August and subsequent results of the investigation, we were compelled to suspend play for the balance of the 2021 season for the safety of our student-athletes,” Potenziano said in a press release.
“Today, we are pleased that the committee understood these extenuating circumstances and saw fit to approve our request to resume games as a sanctioned team for the 2022 season, which means we are able to compete with other high schools in varsity competition, as well as postseason playoffs,” he added.
Head varsity football coach Dan Cooper was fired following an investigation into the hazing allegations. Before his firing, Cooper and assistant coach Greg Nadeau had been placed on non-disciplinary leave.
Potenziano told NEWS CENTER Maine at that time that some students had also been removed from the team.
The superintendent said the district is now taking several steps to prevent future hazing incidents.
“Of course, we are happy to get our student-athletes back to playing a sport that supports their physical health, well-being, and social development. But of equal importance, if not more so, is putting into action specific measures to help ensure hazing incidents don’t occur in the first place. And our schools are supportive, safe, and welcoming for all students and staff,” Potenziano said.
Those steps include a comprehensive review of school policies ranging from things like field trip procedures to the hiring process of staff.
The district will also implement an anonymous student reporting system for instances of hazing. Potenziano said the district is in discussions with Dr. Elizabeth Allan, a University of Maine professor and director of the nonprofit organization, Stop Hazing. That group provides research, training, and resources to schools and organizations interested in strengthening hazing prevention.