Chandler Hamilton’s 2016-17 school year ended with Chandler police executing a search warrant over the football program’s hazing scandal.

It began the 2017-18 academic year last week with the police reporting that investigators had recommended charges against Principal Ken James and former head coach Steve Belles.

Later last week, Chandler police also said investigators recommended charges against Athletic Director Shawn Rustad.

If those men end up getting charged, what’s next?

Is the cancellation of Hamilton’s football season possible?

Some might say that would be overreaction and that current players shouldn’t be punished. It would certainly rock not only the school but the state with Hamilton’s rich tradition of football success (seven state championships, five under Belles, since it opened in the late 1990s). It would also directly impact all the team’s on Hamilton’s schedule this fall.

But it also would send a strong message.

Precedent already has been set across the nation the last few years with programs being shut down over hazing scandals that led to criminal investigations.

October, 2014

Sayrville War Memorial High School, a New Jersey football power, had all three levels of its football program cancelled amid a hazing investigation. The team had won three of the past four state championships. The investigation reportedly centered on allegations that players were pinned down and touched in a sexual manner. 

District superintendent Richard Labbe at the time told The New York Times, “the Sayreville Board of Education takes this manner extremely seriously, and thus will continue to make the safety and welfare of our students, particularly the victims of these horrendous alleged acts, our highest priority.”

October, 2014

In late October of the football season at Central Bucks (Pa.) West High, it was reported that the school canceled the rest of its season after players had been subjected to “humiliating” hazing before the season.

“Swift and firm action is absolutely necessary,” Superintendent David Weitzel told

September, 2016

Reports came out that Philomath High School in Oregon canceled its varsity season after a hazing incident in a July football camp. The Philomath School Board voted on the decision. This came while the district and police were investigating the incident, according to reports.

What’s next for Hamilton?

So far, Chandler Unified School District Superintendent Camille Casteel has remained quiet, except for putting out a letter to Hamilton High parents in April when Belles was reassigned.

It partly read, 

“During the most difficult moments I remind myself that an individual or group does not define who HHS is, nor does it minimize what they have accomplished.  Most importantly, the Hamilton community is resilient and there is no doubt in my mind that they will overcome this adversity and be stronger.”

It’s the County Attorney’s move next.

Could what happens there determine the fate of the 2017 Huskies?  

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