Brunswick’s superintendent of schools has removed players from the high school football team for the rest of the season as “interim actions” in the wake of an alleged hazing incident during a preseason team retreat.

Superintendent Phil Potenziano would not say how many players have been removed, citing confidentiality concerns and the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

“Playing football for Brunswick High School is a privilege, not a right,” Potenziano said in an email to the Press Herald on Friday morning while awaiting the school department’s report on its investigation into the alleged incident.

“Players are expected to always act appropriately and with character and integrity, not only on the football field but also in school and in the community. The Brunswick School Department has taken interim actions as a result of violations of the codes of conduct and other school district policies. This has resulted in some students being removed from the BHS football team.”

Later on Friday, the superintendent said he had received the investigative report conducted by the school department’s legal counsel, led by attorney Allen Kropp of the Portland firm Drummond Woodsum.

“I will not be making any further comments this evening other than to say I am presently reviewing the report and want to give it the attention it requires,” Potenziano said.

Earlier this season, the Brunswick football roster listed 38 players. During the team’s game Friday night at Skowhegan High, 27 players were in uniform for the Dragons – though it’s unclear how many players were missing for disciplinary reasons.

No decision has been made on whether head coach Dan Cooper or his top assistant, Greg Nadeau, will be allowed to return to coaching duties, Potenziano said. They were placed on nondisciplinary administrative leave by the superintendent last week. Cooper offered a pregame prayer to the team before Friday night’s game, but assistant Nate Brunette coached the team during the game.

The Brunswick High football team walks to the field Friday evening before its game at Skowhegan. Just 27 players were in uniform for the Dragons.  Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

A week ago, Potenziano canceled the varsity football game on Sept. 24 and put the program on a four-day pause as the school department and Brunswick police conducted separate investigations of the alleged hazing incident. On Tuesday, the team was allowed to return to football activities.

“Supporting student-athletes and the general student body through this situation has been our priority, as evidenced by our supportive measures, and continuing to allow the team to play is a supportive measure,” Potenziano said at the time.

Scott Stewart, Brunswick’s police chief, said Tuesday that the Brunswick School Department supplied police with materials related to its investigation, including video of the alleged hazing incident. A detective was assigned to the police investigation last week.

Potenziano has said he became aware of the hazing allegations on or around Sept. 8 and that the incident happened during a team retreat in August at Thomas Point Beach, a music venue and campground in Brunswick.

On Sept. 16, in a letter addressed to Brunswick High football parents, Potenziano announced that the school department had launched an investigation to “uncover any violations of school rules and determine appropriate action.”

Brunswick High football players kneel in the end zone before their game against Skowhegan on Friday night. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Brunswick High grad Peter Tupper drove to Skowhegan with his brother, James, to watch the Dragons play on Friday night.

“With the investigation going on, it’s something that will come out at some point, but we’re here to support the kids,” Peter Tupper said. “The kids are here to play football and be as competitive as they can be, and I think their minds are in the right place.

“I’m here to support each and every one of those kids that is playing here tonight. It’s an unfortunate incident, I really don’t know a lot about it, but whoever is on that field tonight is the kids I’m supporting.”

Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Drew Bonifant contributed to this report.

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