Videos by OutKick
A shocking story out of Canton McKinley High School surfaced this week about a young player for the football team who was cruelly punished by the coaching staff. Head coach Marcus Wattley humiliated a player by instructing him to violate his dietary restrictions related to his Jewish faith.
After missing practice with an injured shoulder, the player was put on public display by the coaching staff to discourage other players from missing practice time. Wattley instructed the player to eat an entire pizza, containing pork and violating Kosher standard, in front of the player’s teammates as punishment.
On Thursday, the Canton City School Board announced that the coaching staff, including Wattley and six assistant coaches, have been relieved of their positions after the cruel, faith-based hazing. The board reached a unanimous agreement to oust Wattley and the following (former) members of Canton McKinley’s staff: Frank McLeod, Zachary Sweat, Josh Grimsley, Cade Brodie, Tyler Thatcher, and Romero Harris.
The student’s attorney, Edward L. Gilbert, provided the family’s response to the situation:
“It’s our view that certainly for religious reasons this was inappropriate,” Gilbert said, who said that the coaching staff was fully cognizant of the student’s faith. “It was a dumb thing to do by the coach, and we haven’t been able to understand what was in this coach’s mind at the time.”
The student received psychological counseling after being forced to break his Jewish customs. Reports indicate that the player has no intention to return to the high school after the incident.
Following the story’s release, the school district released the following:
“At the Canton City Schools, the safety and wellbeing of our students is our top priority.
An incident occurred during a football training session that was concerning enough to warrant immediate action by the Canton City School District. That immediate action was the suspension of eight members of the High School Football Coaching Staff, including the head coach, while an investigation is conducted.
The incident calls into question whether appropriate team management, discipline, and player accountability infrastructures are in place.
The District is nearing the completion of its investigation regarding this incident. Once a conclusion is reached, following our commitment to transparency, the District will provide additional information.
The football program, which has a long and impressive history, is an important part of our school culture and our community. That program has a proud tradition of instilling the attributes of excellence, leadership, community, accountability, hard work, and respect into the players and those associated with the overall program. As such, those entrusted with the protection of our student-athletes must be held to a higher standard within our community.
Let us be clear, the Canton City School District holds all staff to the highest professional and ethical standards. Anything short of these standards is unacceptable.
As educators, we are united in the pursuit of creating an inclusive and safe learning environment for our students in the classroom and beyond.”