Canton City Schools Superintendent Jeff Talbert tells JMN that the school district has concluded their investigation into head coach Marcus Wattley and seven other coaches who forced a player to consume a pizza with pepperoni as a punishment, according to a family attorney.
Talbert says the district filed a police report “in an effort to be comprehensive, and with our student’s health and wellbeing in mind.”
According to Ed Gilbert, the attorney for the player’s family, Wattley allegedly forced the player to consume a pizza with pepperoni toppings despite the player being of Hebrew Israeli faith – which forbids the consumption of pork.
“The investigation found that the identified coaches engaged in actions that constituted inappropriate, demeaning, and divisive behavior in a misguided attempt to instill discipline in the student-athletes,” said Talbert. “This behavior will not be tolerated and further disciplinary measures for staff, which have not yet been determined, will follow.”
Talbert said the district will determine displinary action for the coaches and will release them to the public.
He said although the coaches allowed the misconduct to happen during practice, it is not a direct reflection of the school district.
“The football program, which has a long and proud history, is an important part of our school culture and our community,” Talbert said. “This incident does not reflect the Canton City School District’s culture of protecting the physical and emotional wellbeing of our students.”
The Canton City School District Board of Education has scheduled a special meeting for Thursday, June 3, 2021, at 5:30 p.m. Potential action may follow an executive session.
The meeting will be held in the Commons at McKinley Senior High School Downtown Campus, 521 Tuscarawas Street W – Canton, Ohio, 44702.