FAIRLAWN, Ohio (WJW) — Two coaches fired over the pizza incident in May are spoke out today.
The incident happened on May 24 after a junior missed practice with an injury.
According to the family’s attorney, head coach Marcus Wattley made the teen sit in the middle of the gym and eat a whole pizza. If he didn’t, his surrounding teammates would have to run extra drills. The attorney said Wattley also threatened to kick him off the team.
The boy repeatedly told the coach he did not eat pork because he belongs to the Hebrew Israeli faith, which strictly forbids eating pork or pork residue. Eventually, he was allowed to pick off the pepperoni, but there was clearly still grease on the pizza. After finishing, the teen was ordered to do extra drills outside, according to the attorney.
Canton City Schools said it suspended seven members of the high school football coaching staff, including the head coach. It is conducting an investigation into the incident.
Attorney says coaches insist on their due process before being terminated
He says a full investigation was not started before the coaches were fired, only 3 athletes were interviewed
Players are asking for their coaching staff to come back
The coaches report the alleged victim told them the next day after the pizza incident, “Thank you, I needed that”
The coaches say they needed to use an extraordinary discipline because the alleged victim is an extraordinary person
His attorney says there are two different narratives going on here and says they are false:
the idea that these coaches forced an athlete to eat pork against his religion – “this is completely false;” – the attorney says the coach offered chicken after the athlete said he cannot eat pork
that he is being disciplined for missing a ‘voluntary’ workout; The coaches report that the athlete didn’t respond to any text messages during the missed voluntary workout. The coaches text the players everyday to ask how they are, if they are eating, if they are safe. Attorney says the coaches knew they were “losing” the athlete.
The attorney is calling for the school to let these coaches back to McKinley.
Coach Wattley says he’s never been criticized for his style of discipline but has been applauded for it