CAÑON CITY, Colorado — District administrators in Cañon City suspended the varsity football team for two games following a criminal investigation into a student initiation ritual. In a joint statement released Wednesday, the police department and the school district reported that investigators did not find evidence that the crime of hazing had occurred. However, the incident did violate the bylaws of the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA.)
Adam Hartman, the superintendent designee for Cañon City Schools said that the school learned about the incident last week.
"There was some discussion happening at the school that a teacher got wind of and we followed up with students to see if there was anything behind what we were hearing and we proceeded from there," Hartman explained.
The teacher reported the information to the school administration which then relayed it to the district. CCPD officers worked with Kindred Kids Child Advocacy Center to interview players on Tuesday, September 28. They wanted to identify any potential hazing victims and witnesses.
"The student interviews failed to support a burden of proof sufficient to believe that a violation of State law occurred, specific to the allegation," the statement read.
Hartman said the incident took place off-campus. Players from the Varsity team were present but not those from the Junior Varsity and Freshmen squads. He also said the team's coaches were unaware of what was happening.
"When we heard from the onset that there was some fear or intimidation, even some emotional stress that came along with, if not actual actions taking place but a threat that there could be, we wanted to learn more," he said.
Hartman learned through the investigation that some of the students were pinned down against their will during the initiation. He added that most of the bad behavior involved emotional stress and fear.
"Our school district is built on the idea that we take care of the whole child and this was an instance where we were compelled to do so," Hartman said.
The next two games on the schedule for Canon City are away games. They were to travel to Broomfield to play Holy Family and then to Pueblo South.