Carmel hazing policy reaches beyond school

Four students charged in an assault case were released Tuesday morning.

Rich Van Wyk/Eyewitness News

Carmel - The problems at Carmel High School have the attention of other sports programs.

The school district's sudden initiative to prevent hazing is spreading. The Carmel Ice Hounds, a private hockey club closely associated with the high school, is adopting a similar anti-hazing policy.

"It's caused us to look at our policies and just broaden them to prevent any potential of anything like this from happening again," said Jack Manard, coach and hockey director of the Ice Hounds.

Manard isn't aware of any problems, yet even initiations as seemingly harmless as rookie haircuts and "Wear Your Equipment to School Day" are now forbidden.

"If anything could be misconstrued as hazing, or anything associated with it, we want to eliminate that from the program," Manard said.

At Carmel High School, students say some coaches have already implemented changes as well. The biggest changes will occur over the summer. Carmel's anti-hazing policy will affect all students, not just athletes. It will involve coaches as well as teachers who are in charge of clubs and other extracurricular activities.

Before the start of the new school year, they will receive new guidelines and awareness and prevention information. Hazing will be a topic during student and team orientations. During the school year, administrators promise students will be better supervised with the help of additional instructional assistants and changes made to locker rooms.

"We Don't Do That Here" is the new, official theme of a school scarred by controversy and criminal investigations. New school and sports handbooks include a prohibition against hazing.

Student athletes and their parents will have to sign off on the policy and a warning that students that break the rules can be suspended from the team and face other disciplinary actions.

Other coaches react

School bus battery has happened before. In the Carmel case, prosecutors said the three coaches sat in the front of the bus, while the players were in the dark in the back.

"When these parents give me their kids, I'm responsible until I give them back to their parents," said Indiana University baseball coach and instructor Bob Morgan.

Morgan is a professional baseball pitcher, a coach at the high school and college level and now teaches future coaches. He says lesson one is supervision.

"We try to be a family. We all want to have fun," he said.

But, he adds, make sure it isn't fun at another's expense.

He said he tries to use long bus trips to look for the players who may be outsiders or loners and include them.

"Maybe the kid had a bad weekend or didn't play well, so I'd go back to the bus and talk to him. Try to get his mindset," Morgan said. "I don't think coaches should be sitting up front. It's the coach's responsibility to understand what's going on."

The same goes for Bill Jones with the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association.

"I often took my assistant coaches and I had a couple of them. I would put them around different parts of the bus," Jones said.

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Read the anti-hazing policy