Ooltewah basketball season canceled, effective immediately

Ooltewah High School is photographed on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015, near Chattanooga, Tenn.
photo Dozens of people pray in breakout groups Tuesday evening inside the worship center at Christway Church in Ooltewah.

Multiple sources have confirmed that the remainder of Ooltewah High School's boys basketball season has been canceled, effective immediately.

The boys varsity and junior varsity teams were summoned to the school's cafeteria today at 2 p.m. and told the news. Sources at the school say the freshman team will continue to play.

The varsity basketball team has played four games since one of the freshman players on the team was allegedly assaulted and raped during a trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, to play in the Smokey Mountain Classic basketball tournament just before Christmas.

The boys had 13 games left, seven home games and six away games.

Bernard Childress, TSSAA executive director, said he has been with the organization which oversees high school athletics in Tennessee for 22 years and can't remember a team ever canceling a season, in any sport, for disciplinary reasons.

"This would be a first in my memory, in our state," Childress said.

photo Ooltewah High School is photographed on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015, near Chattanooga, Tenn.

Childress said there has been a large community outcry for harsh punishment.

"We've even had people e-mail or contact us to say the TSSAA should step in and cancel the season," he said. "That's not our role. It's up to the individual school district to determine how to handle such a terrible situation."

Childress said every school year TSSAA talks to coaches and shares information with them about how to handle hazing.

"We make sure our schools have the information in their hands," Chidlress said. "Unfortunately it still happens. We will definitely use this as a reminder and an example of how important it is for all coaches to take whatever steps necessary to make sure hazing of any kind is not tolerated."

Family members of the Ooltewah freshman allegedly assaulted and raped by his basketball teammates previously told the Times Free Press they wanted the season to be ended.

The victim's aunt, speaking on behalf of the family, said they also want to see Ooltewah's athletic director, coach and assistant coaches placed on administrative leave while the investigation is ongoing.

The aunt will not be identified by the Times Free Press in order to protect the victim's identity.

Hamilton County school Superintendent Rick Smith did not return request for comment.

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