Following an Oct. 1 road loss against Talihina, a handful of members of the Hulbert Riders football team allegedly received sexual favors from a female classmate while they returned home on a school bus.
On the way to the game, two "water girls" rode the bus with the team, but on the way home, one of the girls returned with her parents, leaving the other on the bus with the team. The students involved have been “severely” disciplined, according to Hulbert Public Schools Superintendent Jolyn Choate, who was made aware of the situation on Monday, Oct. 4.
“I can confirm the district has a code of conduct that outlines rules, expectations and discipline. When an incident occurs, we follow the process outlined in our Board Approved Handbook,” wrote Choate in a statement.
When the incident took place, two assistant coaches were sitting at the front of the bus, which took off at 10 p.m. in what would be a two-hour ride in the dark.
On Oct. 5, Choate met with the football team to decide on the future of the season. Coach Ty Pilgrim recommended canceling the rest of the teams' games, and by Oct. 6, he had offered his letter of resignation, though Choate apparently did not ask for it.
Assistant coach Kyle Deason agreed to step up and act as head coach if the rest of the student-athletes wanted to continue to play.
“I didn’t want to hold all the students who are working on bettering themselves to not play because of the decisions that their peers had made,” said Choate.
According to Choate, who consulted with HPS Principal Chad Botts, schools are required to have a minimum of 14 students to maintain a football team. After the involved students were removed, the team was left with 15 eligible players. With this in mind, HPS continued to play week-by-week.
On Oct. 22, HPS announced it would cancel its game against Gore due to injuries. While the number of athletes with injuries was not disclosed, because Hulbert is operating on a 15-man roster, only two members of the team would have to be injured to cancel a game.
Since the incident took place, Hulbert has played against Porter and Colcord. The school has two more games on its schedule against Warner and Central in Sallisaw.