Several Hollidaysburg Area High School football players have been suspended or removed from the team after an investigation into inappropriate conduct, authorities said Thursday.
Meanwhile, borough police are expected to announce today whether they will file criminal charges in the matter.
While Superintendent Bob Gildea declined to confirm the specific misconduct or the number of players involved, he said multiple players in 10th, 11th and 12th grades participated in the locker-room activity earlier this month.
Earlier claims characterized the accusations as hazing, but Gildea said the case involved students of several grade levels, regardless of their time with the team.
"This was sophomores, juniors, seniors. There was no rhyme or reason," he said.
Players have faced school suspensions, as well, Gildea said, although none are set to be expelled.
Administrators also contacted police, who are expected to wrap up their investigation today, Hollidaysburg Police Chief David Gehret said Thursday.
The alleged misconduct took place in locker rooms between two-a-day practices the week of Aug. 11-16.
Some of the perpetrators were also recipients of the misconduct, Gildea said.
"Although inappropriate, the misconduct did not threaten or endanger any team member's physical health or safety," he said in a news release.
At the advice of the district's attorney, Gildea declined to say precisely how many students were involved.
An adult not involved with the football program, who declined to be identified publicly, first told football coach and athletic director Homer DeLattre of the alleged misconduct on Aug. 20, several days after it occurred, Gildea said in a written statement.
The next day, DeLattre questioned players, who confirmed the allegations, Gildea said.
Administrators began an investigation on Aug. 22 and confirmed the team's coaches were neither aware of the incident nor negligent, Gildea said.
Gehret said Hollidaysburg police have carried out their own investigation, speaking with students and players over the past week.
"We have a couple more parents to talk to," Gehret said. "We don't want to rush into it."
All those suspected are under 18 years old, he said.
Gildea and Gehret declined to speak on the record about the specific behavior. Gehret confirmed that it would not qualify as sexual assault, as some rumors have suggested.
"I would say it's at the minimum harassment. I don't want to speculate what the worst would be," he said.
Hollidaysburg is scheduled to open its season tonight, hosting Yough at 7 p.m.
Mirror Staff Writer Ryan Brown is at 946-7457.