Bledsoe County football coach Hubert Roberson has been suspended without pay for seven business days after a hazing incident that occurred when he left players unattended in the team’s fieldhouse during school hours.
According to Roberson, the incident happened while he was mowing the football field last Wednesday. The second-year head coach said the hazing began when several seniors dared the team’s 16 freshmen to get into a whirlpool filled with ice water for several seconds. Then the freshmen were told to pair off and hit each other once in the rear with a belt.
“I interviewed all the kids, and it’s my understanding that nobody was hit on their bare skin,” Roberson said. “They all hit each other once across the butt.
“It was about 90 degrees and I gave the boys the option of sitting in the bleachers or staying in the weight room if they could behave. I started to go back and get them, but I thought they would do what I said. It’s my fault for not supervising them. I should have known better. I take responsibility and should be punished.”
Once he learned of the incident, Roberson interviewed all 31 players who were present and reported the information to Bledsoe County school superintendent Phil Kiper, who conducted his own three-day investigation. Although no players were injured, because of the school’s zero-tolerance policy, four players have been suspended for three days and as many as seven more could receive in-school suspension.
“Athletes have no higher or lesser standard than everybody else,” Kiper said. “What happens in the bathroom gets the same punishment as what happens in the locker room.
“I have a lot of respect for Coach Roberson and think he’s a fine man and a good educator, but he made a mistake. This was a pretty obvious decision and we’ll move on.
Roberson will not be allowed to attend tonight’s game at Upperman or next week’s home game against Sequatchie County. Until he is allowed to return, on Sept. 22, defensive coordinator Jason Reel will serve as interim head coach.
“I’m worried because there’s a lot of animosity right now between the kids,” Roberson said. “The older kids feel like they’re being thrown under the bus, and I’m afraid it’s going to drive a stake into the middle of our team.”
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 23 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including nine in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers in the nation at the Associated ...