High School Football Coaches Fired After Allegedly Making Player Eat Pork

Seven football coaches from McKinley High School in Ohio have been fired after allegedly making a player eat pork to punish him for missing a workout on May 20, according to The Repository. The Canton City School board voted not to renew the contracts of head coach Marcus Wattley and assistant coaches Cade Brodie and Tyler Thatcher, and assistant baseball coach Romero Harris who has "related duties in the weight room. Additionally, the school board voted assistant football coaches Frank McLeod, Zachary Sweat and Josh Grimsley are ineligible for coaching positions in the future.

The football player's family accused Wattley and his assistant coaches of forcing the player to eat an entire pepperoni pizza against his religious beliefs as part of his punishment for missing a strength and conditioning workout. However, according to Peter Pattakos, the attorney for Wattley, that version of the events is exaggerated. Pattakos and some of the students who attended the school board meeting said the player had the ability to leave at any time, and Wattley offered the player to eat chicken nuggets instead of the pizza. The player chose to eat the pizza but took off the pepperoni and apologized to his teammates and coaches.

"We asked the district to postpone their decision for at least one more week to allow for this matter to be fully and fairly investigated, including upon full consideration of the testimony of the numerous Canton McKinley football players who witnessed this event and were at tonight's board meeting wanting to tell anyone who would listen that the story being advanced by the alleged victim's father and attorney is not true," Pattakos said in a statement on behalf of Wattley. "For inexplicable reasons, the board denied this basic request and refused to listen to these young men, reflecting that the district's leadership is not interested in the truth of this matter, and is instead motivated by something else."

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Superintendent Jeff Talbert issued a statement before the coaches were fired which said an internal investigation found that the coaches on May 24 "engaged in actions that constituted inappropriate, demeaning and divisive behavior in a misguided attempt to instill discipline in the student-athletes." The statement does not include what happened on May 24, but Talbert said the coaches could be fired for their actions after being suspended with pay.