New Jersey school replacing football coach after hazing scandal

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 05, 2015 3:39 PM

By Sascha Brodsky

(Reuters) - A New Jersey high school embroiled in a locker room hazing scandal that led to cancellation of its football season is seeking to replace its coach, whose job was posted on Thursday as vacant.

Head football coach George Najjar and four assistant coaches at Sayreville War Memorial High School were suspended last year by the Sayreville Board of Education after allegations surfaced that young team members were held against their will while older players sexually molested them.

The 1,700-student school in central New Jersey had a highly regarded football team. Najjar led the team to three state titles.

Sayreville Schools Superintendent Rick Labbe released a statement on Thursday saying, “Today we took the next important step toward the 2015 football season. We are excited to launch a comprehensive search to find the next leader of our football program.” 

Labbe’s office declined to comment on the status of Najjar as a tenured teacher at the high school or provide details about his job.

After news of the scandal broke in October, Labbe canceled the remainder of the school's football season and said he was considering suspending the program in future years as well. Labbe told a board meeting last month that the football program had been reinstated. 

Najjar had been suspended with pay as a physical education instructor at the high school since Oct. 16, the day school officials began an internal investigation into his football program amid the allegations of hazing and sexual assault. 

Seven football players were suspended and charged with sexually abusing four freshmen members of the team. None will be tried as adults.

None of the coaches have been charged. Four assistant coaches were suspended with pay from the school but all have been reinstated. 

On the school district website, a job posting for "head football coach" was listed with several requirements including "takes necessary precautions to maintain the safety of student-athletes."

Najjar was not immediately reachable for comment.

(Reporting by Sascha Brodsky in New York; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Will Dunham)