New video emerges in Senior High basketball hazing incident

New footage 'brings more information to the incident' interim superintendent says
2012-02-10T19:00:00Z 2012-02-11T16:25:17Z New video emerges in Senior High basketball hazing incidentBy ROB ROGERS rrogers@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette
February 10, 2012 7:00 pm  • 

New video of an incident Wednesday that resulted in 14 Billings Senior High basketball players being punished for hazing brings more information to the investigation, interim Superintendent Jack Copps said Friday.

"We saw a second video that causes us to see this incident in a different light," he said.  

The second video shows more roughhousing, but this time with the student identified Thursday as the victim participating in the roughhousing. The parents of the suspended players met with Copps on Friday to show him that video, asking that he step back from classifying the incident shown in the first video as hazing.

Copps refused.

"It did cross the line," he said. "If it wasn't hazing in the eyes of the parents, in my eyes it was close."

The first video shown to Billings School District 2 officials on Thursday shows players holding down another team member, a junior, and placing on him a dog's bark collar, which delivered a shock. The incident happened Wednesday during a dinner held for the basketball team at a private residence.

The junior has since transferred to Billings West High.

Copps acknowledged that Wednesday night's incident wasn't as troubling compared to other hazing incidents that have occurred recently in other parts of the state.

"This is at the other end of that spectrum," he said. "The hazing that occurred is clearly not -- has not risen to the level of what's being suggested on social media."

He also made the point that the 14 players are good students -- many carry a 4.0 GPA -- and are productive members of their community.

"These are not malicious kids," he said. "They did a stupid thing, but they're good kids."

Copps suspended the players Thursday from competing for a week, which included the school's big rivalry game against West High Thursday night and a second game Friday night at Hardin.

Senior played junior varsity and sophomore players in its game with West, which won the match 72-25.

The pregame dinners held among team members and their parents have become a tradition in recent years. They are not official school events, but Copps has asked that coaches attend in the future.

"This would not have happened had a coach been there," Copps said.

Contact Rob Rogers at rrogers@billingsgazette.com or 657-1231.

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