ROOSEVELT, Utah — A high school football coach in Utah suspended his entire team because players were showing a “lack of character.”
According to KSL.com, Matt Labrum, coach of Union High School in Roosevelt, Utah, had all 80 players turn in their jerseys after last week’s 40-16 loss.
Labrum said he knew a few of his players were struggling with academic issues and attitude problems this season. However, last week coaches learned at least one player may have used social media website ask.fm to anonymously engage in cyber-bullying.
“We felt like everything was going in a direction that we didn’t want our young men going,” Labrum told the Deseret News. “We felt like we needed to make a stand.”
Labrum met with players on Saturday and gave them a letter outlining what they needed to do to earn their way back onto the team.
Here’s an excerpt from the letter:
Gentlemen, we are not pleased with how our football brothers are representing our family, school, community, alumni, family and yourselves. It is a privilege to play this wonderful game! We must earn the opportunity, to have the honor to put on our high schools jersey each Thursday and Friday night!
As of tonight we are no longer playing football until we meet certain criteria!
TURN YOUR JERSEYS IN NOW!
Instead of practicing, the players spent their week doing community service. They pulled weeds, cleaned school hallways and washed windows. They also spent time visiting residents at two long-term care facilities.
It might not be what one would typically expect from a team with a 3-2 record heading into its homecoming game Friday.
“We’re still practicing, but we’re practicing on some different skills,” Labrum told KSL.com. “I think it’s going to bring our team closer. It think we’re going to be more accountable, not only for ourselves, but for our buddy next to us.”
Bruce Guymon, director of student services for the Duchesne County School District, said he hasn’t received a single parent complaint about the coach’s decision.
The players will learn Wednesday night whether they’ll get their jerseys back.