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Warren De La Salle forfeits playoff game, ends season, after incidents of hazing discovered

By: MATTHEW B. MOWERY, October 31, 2019, 4:51 pm

Two-time defending Division 2 champion Warren De La Salle will be unable to defend those titles on the field.

While the Pilots made the MHSAA playoffs as a 5-4 squad, and were set to face Birmingham Groves in Friday’s D2 playoff opener, they will instead forfeit that game, after several instances of hazing were discovered by the administration.

STATE CHAMPS! Network obtained a copy of an email sent to De La Salle parents on Thursday, in which school president John M. Knight outlined the decision, and the investigation which will follow.

“De La Salle Collegiate is committed to notifying you promptly when we must share difficult or unpleasant news, just as we have done when we have celebrated positive news about our students’ many positive accomplishments,” Knight wrote. “Today we are sorry to report that we have recently discovered a series of hazing incidents conducted by several players on our varsity football team, and many players on the team appear to have been aware of such hazing but failed to report it. As a result we have made the difficult but appropriate decision to forfeit Friday’s football game which will end the season. In addition, consistent with the school’s policies, we are reporting the hazing incidents to law enforcement to determine if such hazing involved criminal conduct.”

WXYZ was the first to report the decision to forfeit.

De La Salle went 12-2 each of the last two seasons, beating Livonia Franklin, 41-6, in the 2017 championship game, and Muskegon Mona Shores, 29-16, in the 2018 title contest. This year’s season will end at 5-5. 

Knight promised parents that the school would take further action, if warranted, after an investigation. 

“Students at times may think because they meant no harm their actions are not problematic. They may assume that because the actions are intended to build a bond between students on the team through a ritual, the behaviors are acceptable. However, it is important that we communicate clearly with our students that disrespectful, demeaning, or nonconsensual behaviors of any kind are not acceptable. Students will be held responsible for their conduct, not on their subjective intent,” Knight wrote. “When allegations of misconduct are brought to our attention, we promptly investigate and provide support to the individuals that were targeted, while following the disciplinary policy regarding others that were involved.”