DeMatha rocked by football road-trip misdeeds; five players dismissed
BY PAULA MINAERT — DeMatha Catholic High School is reeling from news that some members of its storied football team allegedly hosted prostitutes while in North Carolina for its season-opening game.
School officials moved to address the misconduct on September 4, after when they learned of it. Five players were removed from the team. At press time, two had withdrawn from the school, two had been recommended for expulsion, and one was scheduled to face a disciplinary hearing.
DeMatha Principal Daniel McMahon issued a statement on September 7 saying that “the school community is saddened and hurt by the actions of these few who do not reflect the character of the community.”
He said the school had sent 18 chaperones for 65 players on the trip and that expectations for behavior were clearly communicated.
“As on all field trips, we conducted room checks and monitored hallways. The last bed checks were at 1:30 a.m. Saturday morning and the hallways were monitored until after 4:30 a.m. The incident occurred after 5 a.m. on Saturday morning.”
McMahon said he could not comment on any disciplinary matters but that the school stands behind football coach Elijah Brooks, who is beginning his second year in the position.
Brad Mason, a 1996 DeMatha graduate and football player, said he is torn.
“That’s not the program I remember. I find it difficult to believe the program and coaching staff would have condoned this. At same time, I’m a little disappointed in the quality of the athletes they’re accepting, or kids in general, if this is happening.
“We got in trouble on road trips. A kid got expelled for stealing someone else’s Timberland boots and that’s the worst that happened. This is quite a step above that,” said Mason. “I don’t claim to know every secret from my time at DeMatha, but the level of trouble I was aware of as a member of the team was much lower.”
A 1999 graduate, who spoke off the record, played hockey at DeMatha and said that when the varsity hockey team went to Toronto some players got in trouble for going to a strip club.
“But it didn’t become public because it was legal there ─ you only had to be 18 to go to a strip club. So it was handled internally, though the players got in trouble and parents got involved, because it went against the school’s moral code.
“There’s a certain mentality there that has to do with being an all-boys high school. It’s an atmosphere of all males and rising hormones.”
Carolyn Miller lives near DeMatha and volunteers there; her husband and one son are graduates.
“I have a totally different sense of that school. My son wasn’t especially athletic but he was totally respected by staff and students and he got a wonderful education there. The staff made sure students did their best in everything.
“Coach Brooks is an upstanding person who has the best interests of DeMatha and his players at heart,” said Miller, who knows both Brooks and his mother.
“If you look at history of their athletic program, there have been problems from time to time with certain students. DeMatha has been very aggressive in upholding the values of a Catholic high school.”
Sherry Cain agrees. One of her sons graduated from DeMatha and the other is a junior there. Both have traveled with the music program.
“I believe the chaperones did their job. The school is very careful. Those kids had to be super sneaky and determined. They made a choice. They were aware of the rules and now are living with the consequences.”