Instead of playing under the Thursday night lights, Mira Mesa High School's freshman and junior varsity football teams joined the rest of the school community at a forum meant to highlight an investigation into an alleged hazing incident involving players.
The San Diego Police Department sex crime unit confirmed to NBC 7 Thursday that it launched an investigation into the alleged incident.
The school has also launched an investigation into the incident, principal Jeff Sabins told NBC 7 in a statement.
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He also sent two emails to parents Wednesday letting them know about the reported incident.
The first outlined the allegations but didn’t provide any details because of laws protecting students' privacy.
“I have just learned about an alleged incident involving several of our JV football players,” Sabins said. “As a result of this incident, I have canceled the combined freshman and JV game scheduled for tomorrow, October 4th at University City High School.”
The JV football team’s practice was also canceled, the principal said.
“I don’t take the decision to cancel a game lightly,” Sabins said. “I need to be confident that we have an understanding that hazing will not be tolerated and develop a plan to ensure that all students are safe at all times.”
The second email informed parents of Thursday's forum at the campus media center where school community members were allowed to express any concerns regarding the alleged incident to coaches and school administrators.
Rumors of what actually happened were circulating on campus after students were made aware of the investigation.
“There were a lot of rumors saying they were touching each other inappropriately," student Enzo Onevathana told NBC 7. “Everybody was disgusted by what happened. Everybody was talking about it. People laughed about it, and others were just kind of weirded out by what happened."
Media wasn't allowed in the forum, but several parents who attended shared their takeaways with NBC 7.
"So many rumors, it's easy to get concerned and scared as a parent," Marc Mejia said. His son isn't on the team but is friends with many players. "Just to come out here and hear what the teachers and coaches wanted to convey, it was helpful as a parent."
Though no additional details of the alleged incident were revealed, parents did say they appreciated the open forum.
"I talked to my grandson about it, and what information he gave me did concern me," Paulette Towne said. Her grandson is on the football team. "I felt a little more comfortable knowing that there was going to be more supervision, especially in the locker rooms."
Townes said she's worried about a culture of retaliation impacting students who reveal details to school and police investigators.
"Retaliation. I really worry about that because, you know, if some kid gets [singled out] for saying anything or volunteering any information, I just really worry about retaliation," she said.
Students who spoke to NBC 7 after school Thursday shared the same concern. One even said he doesn't want to go to Mira Mesa High School anymore.
"I don't want to go to this school after this," Xavier Amaro said. "Because I don't know if it could happen to me or anyone else that I know."
Read Sabins' full statement to NBC 7:
“The Mira Mesa High School administration learned of alleged hazing occurring among some members of the Junior Varsity football team. In response, the school: launched an investigation into the allegations, which continues; canceled a JV football practice and game scheduled for Thursday; and notified the entire school community of the reports of alleged hazing.
I have directed football staff to increase off-field supervision of football team members. Tomorrow night, I will meet with football families to review our commitment to keep students safe on and off the field.”