BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — After district officials suspended all varsity and junior varsity football activities at Viera High School over the weekend, the Brevard County Sheriff's Office announced Monday that it was investigating the alleged hazing incident at the root of the controversy.

Brevard County School Board Chair Matt Susin originally said Monday that the varsity head football coach — identified on the district's website as Shane Staples — had been fired.

Susin later clarified that Staples was only relieved of coaching duties and remains a physical education teacher until the school learns more about the investigation.

What You Need To Know

  • An alleged hazing incident has forced all football activities at Viera High to be suspended

  • Superintendent Mark Rendell did not provide details about the hazing

  • Brevard County School Board Chair Matt Susin says the vasity head football coach has been relieved of his duties, but currently retains his job as a P.E. teacher

“Hazing, bullying, and intimidation have no place in Brevard Public Schools ... and we must always act in the best interest and safety of our students," Rendell said in a statement posted on the district's website.

District officials did not reveal details of what is alleged to have happened during the hazing incident.

"We had an unfortunate situation where some kids acted completely inappropriately and, quite frankly, disgusting," Susin said.

"‘So, what we’ve done is we’ve moved as a district to hold those children accountable and the program accountable," Susin said. "We’ve removed the head football coach from his duties as head football coach, and we’ve taken all of the students that were involved, all the athletes that were involved and we’ve placed them on 10-day pendings, which means that they’re on 10-day suspension while they’re in the scope of looking to see if they’re going to be expelled or not. All indications are that they’re going to be expelled, the ones that were a part of it. We just want to make sure that this is not a culture.”

Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey released a statement Monday saying his office "is conducting a complete and thorough criminal investigation into the incident by interviewing all parties involved and collecting evidence and statements from those with immediate knowledge of what occurred!!"

Ivey's statement also provided a timeline of events, indicating that the initial incident is believed to have happened on Aug. 14, but "the school administration did not learn of the incident until late in the evening on Wednesday the 16th."

On the 17th, district officials say they "took immediate action to ensure the safety of the students who were targeted, address those responsible for the incident, and review any failure of staff or policy, that could have prevented the incident from happening."

According to the Viera High School Hawks official X account — formerly known as Twitter — the team played two half games on Aug. 18 during a kickoff jamboree at the New Smyrna Sports Complex, beating Seabreeze and Merritt Island 27-12 and 42-21 respectively. 

In an email to Spectrum News Monday, a district spokesperson said the students alleged to have been involved in the hazing incident were suspended on Aug. 17 and were not allowed to participate in the games the next day.

Rendell announced the alleged hazing incident and ensuing suspensions on Sunday.

Ivey's Monday statement says after "that doing a brief assessment of the facts of the incident, and determining that the actions of the students exceeded school policy, the administration immediately contacted their assigned School Resource Deputy, as well as District School Security, to report the incident to law enforcement."

The statement does not specify when the call to law enforcement was made, or whether it took place before or after Friday's games.

A parent-player meeting to discuss the alleged incident was scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, but none of the suspended players will be allowed to attend, Rendell said.

School officials say they will continue to evaluate the situation to determine if the program will be reinstated this season.

"The bottom line is that 99.9% of the children had nothing to do with this, and you have cheerleaders, you have band members, you have all of the other kids who are a part of the program who you don’t want to hold accountable,” Susin said.

"All indications are that Viera High School does not have a culture, but we have to investigate it," he added.

As a result of the incident, all football players will be required to take part in an anti-hazing educational program before the program could be reinstated, Rendell said in his statement.