By Candace Kelley
The Sayreville High School football team has been sidelined with two hits and no one knows for sure when and if they’ll be back on the field this season.
“We have a lot of excellent ball players. I don’t know who did what or did what but I feel very bad for them,” said James Antonucci.
School officials cancelled all football games last week, revealing allegations of hazing and what they call “inappropriate conduct” on the team. This came after the arrest of Assistant Football Coach Charlie Garcia. Authorities say they seized two sealed boxes of steroids and 14 syringes from Garcia’s car. He has since resigned.
In 2006, then acting Gov. Richard Codey signed an executive order making New Jersey the first state in the country to test high school athletes for performance-enhancing drugs. He says Sayreville High’s good record could be tackled.
“What were you doing with these syringes? What were you doing with these drugs?” Codey asked.
The order he signed requires testing of a total of 500 players across several different sports during championship tournaments. He says money is needed for even more testing because it protects the players.
“They damage themselves. It causes heart problems, causes mental problems, it can cause cancer,” Codey said.
The senator went on to say that if hazing did take place, it’s ridiculous that it was allowed.
The Sayreville Police and the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office are now investigating the case to find out what exact inappropriate conduct took place.
And investigators could take days, weeks or months to get to the truth of the hazing allegations matter. Meanwhile, Steve Timpko, executive director of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, explains that, “This matter is one for the school district and law enforcement agencies to address. And Sayerville may determine its own football future. There are no NJSIAA rules requiring a member school to terminate an entire sports season due to forfeits.”
“If the kids had nothing to do with it, they shouldn’t have been punished at all,” said Jorge Rosales.
And what’s next for the Sayreville football team? So far, there is no indication that the former assistant coach sold or gave steroids to players and the school district will decide about the rest of the games on a “day by day basis.”