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Hamilton High School names new football coach as hazing investigation continues

(Facebook Photo)

PHOENIX — Hamilton High School named a new head football coach on Thursday as an investigation into alleged hazing by players continued.

In a release, the Chandler Unified School District said Dick Baniszweski will head the team’s 2017 season after serving as the interim head coach for spring football.

“With Chandler Police and Chandler Unified investigations continuing, there is a strong desire by the school and the district to continue the program under the leadership of Baniszewski for the 2017 season,” the district said in a statement.

However, the future of the head coaching role is unclear after the upcoming season.

Head football coach Steve Belles was placed on paid leave during the investigation. In Thursday’s statement, the district said it was not replacing him and had offered him a teaching contract for the 2017-2018 school year.

It was unclear if Belles could be allowed to take over the program at a later date.

Several Hamilton players were under investigation after hazing allegations surfaced in late March. Six players were arrested in the case but only three were charged.

One 17-year-old has been charged as an adult with sexual assault, kidnapping and aggravated assault. Two 16-year-olds were charged as juveniles with kidnapping, aggravated assault and assault.

Amanda Jacinto, a spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, said last month prosecutors have asked the court to consider charging the 16-year-olds as adults.

The crimes, which were not described by police, were allegedly committed between September 2015 and January 2017 on school grounds, but police said they first learned of them in February.

Chandler police are continuing to investigate the allegations and are “looking into the possibility of more victims,” Jacinto said.

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