By Jill Harmacinski
ANDOVER — The director of the summer basketball camp where two Andover High basketball players were allegedly hazed by older teammates described the incident as "disturbing and reprehensible."
"Your blood just boils. It's very upsetting to say the least," said Steve Gibbs, director of Hoop Mountain basketball camp, based in Beverly.
Hoop Mountain has been tossed from the Stonehill College campus in Easton, Mass., where police are investigating claims two underclassmen were urged by older teammates — two in particular — into playing a game called "wet biscuit" at the camp in early July. The loser of the game was forced to eat an Oreo cookie covered in a bodily fluid.
Gibbs said the 26-year-old business has a "zero tolerance" policy when it comes to "hazing or any kind of foul play."
"The alleged behavior has no place at our camps or in society in general," said Greg Kristof, Hoops Mountain managing partner.
The hazing allegation surfaced two weeks ago and Stonehill terminated its agreement with Hoop Mountain Nov. 22 "for its failure to meet its supervisory and safety obligations," according to a statement released yesterday. The college requires "all outside recreational camps renting the College's facilities" to comply with state law, according to the statement.
Nine members of the Andover High team were attending the overnight camp when the incident reportedly occurred. Gibbs said the dorms are "very well supervised" during the camp and Hoop Mountain has never faced other hazing allegations. Athletes attend the camps for "top play basketball experience."
"We would never allow something like this," Gibbs said.
The Andover Police Department is helping Easton Police in the investigation. School officials are conducting a separate probe which could be wrapped up this week. School Superintendent Marinel McGrath has not responded to repeated requests for comment.
A source confirmed the two students who were the alleged ringleaders of the hazing attended yesterday's tryouts for the Andover High boys basketball team. Students involved in hazing face disciplinary action from suspension to expulsion, according to Andover Public School policy.
Hazing is also illegal. Those convicted of hazing face up to a year in jail and a $3,000 fine. Anyone who witnesses hazing but does not report it faces a $1,000 fine if convicted under state law.
Andover School Committee Chairwoman Annie Gilbert said she expected the school department investigation to be completed in the next couple of days. However, she said she was not privy to the details surrounding the probe and could not predict the possible discipline that could result.
"I think anytime there is a report of hazing or bullying it's very upsetting," she said.
The incident was reported to a coach on Nov. 11, who in turn told Andover High boys varsity basketball coach David Fazio. Fazio was not available for comment. His lawyer Michael Morris previously stated said the 22-year Andover High veteran "acted promptly, compassionately, professionally, legally and morally by responding to the boy and his parents, some of the parents of other boys involved, to the Andover Police and his superiors all at the first opportunity."
Fazio "did everything possible to deal with this 4-month-old situation. This is not a school-related issue," Morris said.
One of the underclassmen coaxed into the playing the game has reportedly transferred to another school district.
Andover High basketball players have been going to Hoop Mountain for six years. An attraction of the camp is that most coaches are affiliated with the New England Small College Athletic Conference and the Ivy League.
Because the camp was held during the summer, when school was out, the students will not face scrutiny by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association, which promotes and regulates educational athletics, according to an MIAA official.
Hazing is against the law and "the law will be the prevailing criteria here," said MIAA spokesman Paul Wetzel.
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