NJ high school cancels football season over bullying allegations

NEW YORK — New Jersey prosecutors are investigating allegations of widespread bullying and harassment within a local high school’s football teams, prompting the school district to cancel the remainder of the season, officials said on Tuesday.

The reported incidents of intimidation and other bullying involving football players at Sayreville War Memorial High School were largely allowed by the teams, said Richard Labbe, the schools superintendent for Sayreville borough.

They “took place on a pervasive level, a wide-scale level and on a level in which the players knew, tolerated and generally accepted,” Labbe told reporters at a news conference on Monday night.

The high school, which has about 1,700 students, has canceled the remaining games for its freshman, junior varsity and varsity football teams, Moreen Proudman, a school district spokeswoman, said on Tuesday.

At his news conference, Labbe declined to answer questions about what type of harassment was reported or whether it was sexual in nature because the Middlesex County prosecutor’s criminal investigation was still under way.

Jim O’Neill, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, confirmed the investigation but declined to give details.

No arrests have been made.

The Sayreville Bombers varsity football team has won three state sectional championships and the head coach, George Najjar, was inducted into the New Jersey Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

On Facebook, a “Support Coach Najjar & The Sayreville Bomber Football Program” page was established on Monday. On it, current and former players post messages about the team and its coach.

“From this point forward, every time I tell someone I played for Sayreville, I will now be stereotyped,” one posting said. (Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Jonathan Allen and Mohammad Zargham)

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