US high school football president resigns after alleged hazing

The president of Mater Dei High School in California, a Catholic preparatory academy whose highest ranked soccer team was charged with hazing in a trial last year, resigned.

The exit of the president, Rev. Walter E. Jenkins, has nothing to do with the allegations, and linking the two would be “unfair,” a school spokesperson said on Saturday.

“There is no connection between the litigation and his leaving school and making such a connection is deeply unfair to Father Jenkins who served Mater Dei well during his tenure,” said Director of Communications Allison Bergeron by email.

The Rev. Walter E. Jenkins.Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange

Jenkins is returning to his religious order in South Bend, Indiana, to take on a new assignment, said Erin Barisano, the diocese of Orange’s superintendent of schools, in a letter to parents, students and supporters. Its release is effective next week.

the a lawsuit has been filed in Orange County Superior Court by an anonymous soccer player Mater Dei, who alleged he was punched several times in the face and head by a heavier player in a pain tolerance hazing game called “body”.

the Orange County Register reported on Saturday that Jenkins’ departure also followed tensions with Bruce Rollinson, the head coach who ran the high school football program since the 1989 season. Rollinson has been credited with elevating the team to a championship level that attracts powerful supporters and wealthy donors to the private school in Santa Ana, southeast Los Angeles.

Jenkins was presented as president in February, and one of his last acts was to hire a Sacramento law firm to conduct an independent investigation into the hazing allegations.

“The departure of the father will not affect the conduct of the independent investigation which will begin when school resumes next week,” said Bergeron. “The Diocese of Orange and Mater Dei remain committed to student safety and academic excellence.”

Barisano, the superintendent, said a new president would be announced “very soon”.

CORRECTION (January 2, 2022, 6:15 p.m. ET): An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the date the lawsuit was filed. It was filed last year, not in 2020. The article also inaccurate the last name of the Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Orange. She’s Erin Barisano, not Jenkins.

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