PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (WSAZ) -- You haze, you pay. That's one of the messages being sent loud and clear after a hazing incident among football players at a local high school.
In the end, six players were suspended from the team -- some of them will not be returning after what school officials call a lewd, sexual act.
“This is our main entrance, and this is where the players will enter now,” Portsmouth High School Principal Doug Poage said.
That's one of the big changes made after two separate incidents last week in the Portsmouth High School football locker room. Both happened when players entered from a side door into a side hallway out of sight of the full locker room. One incident was discovered fairly quickly and reported immediately by the coach.
“He said we had hazing going on between seniors and underclassmen," Poage said. "Upperclassmen grabbed and pushed a younger classman.”
That was last Tuesday. But, it wasn't until the investigation into this incident that an even more serious problem was discovered from the day before. It was described to WSAZ.com as only a lewd, sexual act.
“It was extremely troubling," Poage said. "Anytime something like that happens, you have to think what if it were my child in that situation, and it was extremely troubling.”
The punishment -- tough life lessons that start with fewer players on the field for the Trojans. All six upperclassmen were suspended from the team and then faced school discipline.
While Poage couldn't go into detail, he said the harshest punishments handed out were the most severe allowed by the student code of conduct.
“I support the school 100 percent," local resident Jerry Anderson said.
“If the school has policies, you have to go by those policies,” local resident Tim Brown said.
Portsmouth High School is a long way from Penn State and the situation there is much different, but the lessons learned can be applied.
“We hope students do feel comfortable in coming forward and letting adults know when something happens," Poage said. "We can do anything about a situation we don't know about. And hopefully students realize that, even though in their minds if something is horseplay, if it's unwelcome, then in their mind it needs to stop,” Poage said.
Those are the messages the district hopes to send loud and clear. The investigation is ongoing, and school officials expect more repercussions from it.