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Ohio prep football players suing former coach, athletic director

June 30, 2016 / Athletic AdministrationFootball
Five Ohio high school football players are suing their former coaches and athletic director, claiming they were subjected to constant harassment and bullying.

St. Marys football
St. Marys football

The former players and two fathers filed the lawsuit in federal court, naming the St. Marys City School District, superintendent, athletic director and two football coaches as defendants. The players say they were called derogatory names, forced the play with injuries and told “concussions don’t exist.”

According to the lawsuit, head football coach Doug Frye had already been reprimanded in a previous position for “using unacceptable obscene language as well as becoming physical with one of the players.”

St. Marys players allege the abuse took place during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years.

From the lawsuit:

In off-season drills nicknamed “bloody nose football” or “towel wars,” players regularly, without pads or helmets, hit one another in order to gain possession of a makeshift football (fashioned from a towel). The Defendant coaches were present during these drills and did nothing to stop the assaults. These sessions were conducted in private, usually in the locker room, over the off-season winter months. They were used by the coaches as a way to “build toughness.”

Although the “helmets-only” practices were supposed to be free from contact, it was common for the practices to include full contact hitting—at the urging of Defendant Doug Frye. The practices came to be known as “bumping” practices by members of the team. The practices were dangerous and put all members of the team at risk. A portion of one bumping practice was caught on video by a local news station when Doug Frye was interviewed. The video was broadcast on the news and showed a hard hit delivered and taken by players wearing only helmets.

The full 46-page lawsuit can be read here.

The former players are seeking compensatory and punitive damages, in addition to the creation of harassment policies, procedures and practices by the school district.


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