GENESEO, N.Y. (AP) — A New York high school has forfeited its remaining varsity football games after several players were dismissed from the team for taking prescription painkillers provided by another player.
Seven players are believed to have taken the opioid OxyContin before Friday's 26-24 win against Bolivar-Richburg, Geneseo police said. Team Captain Kyle MacDonald told Spectrum News that while he had nothing to do with the pills, some players had reactions that led them to inform the coach about them after the game.
The pills were taken by a player from his parents' home without their knowledge, police said.
Timothy Hayes, superintendent of the small rural district, said Wednesday he has no reason to believe it had happened before. He said the 900-student district would work to raise awareness of the danger of opiates among all of its students.
Roughly 75 percent of new heroin users report first using prescription opioids, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The strength of the medications can easily cause addiction, forcing many people to turn to cheaper heroin when their prescriptions run out.
"We certainly want to send a strong a message as possible," Hayes said.
The district forfeited Friday's game and dismissed seven players from the team. Without enough remaining players to fill a roster, the remaining three varsity games have been forfeited as well, a decision that "crushed" the athletes, Hayes said.
A criminal investigation by the Geneseo police and Livingston County Sheriff's Office is ongoing, authorities said.
It was the second blow to the school's athletic program this month. On Sept. 7, a freshman member of the cross-country team was struck and killed by a car while running with a teammate near the campus.
"All of our kids on this team, all of the kids in our district, they're our kids," Hayes said. "Kids make mistakes. We need to hold them accountable, but we also need to pick them up and help them move forward and we're doing all of those things."