The move to put three Andover High School boys’ hockey coaches on leave comes amid a state investigation into allegations that team members were denied food and water as punishment for losing games, according to a statement from the school district.
In the statement released Thursday afternoon, the district said that two reported incidents are being reviewed by the state’s Department of Children and Families. In one of the alleged incidents, varsity hockey players were forced to do “a punitive conditioning session” during a practice after the team lost a game. During that session, the students were allegedly not allowed a water break, according to the statement.
The other incident the department is probing involves students being denied food after an away game as punishment for losing, according to the district’s statement.
School officials did not detail when the incidents occurred or disclose who made the allegations.
Andover public school officials are “fully cooperating with the DCF investigation and will additionally conduct [their] own investigation” after the department’s probe is completed, the statement said.
News of the investigation of the varsity hockey program surfaced Wednesday. The head varsity boys’ hockey coach at Andover High School and two assistant coaches were placed on leave during the probe. Chris Kuchar is the boys’ varsity coach. The assistant coaches who were placed on leave have yet to be identified by the school.
None of the coaches involved are school district staff members, Andover High School principal Philip Conrad said in a statement Wednesday.
Attempts to reach Kuchar were unsuccessful. A Haverhill native, he is in his fourth season at Andover. Previously, he had coached the Amesbury High-Whittier Voke Tech cooperative team.
Junior varsity coach Peter Loring has been named Andover High’s interim varsity head coach.
After an Andover High hockey game Thursday evening, senior Pete Stylos, a manager for the team, vehemently denied the allegations against Kuchar. “He never pushes players over the limit to the point that it causes health issues or anything,” he said.
“There’s water at practice, and players can drink water whenever they want,” Stylos said. “They were never denied food; they were never denied water because it’s always there for them.”
DCF spokeswoman Andrea Grossman confirmed the agency was investigating allegations made against Andover High School boys’ varsity coaches. Grossman would not confirm the details of the investigation Thursday evening, saying they were confidential.
Andover, which competes in the Merrimack Valley/Dual County Division 1, has a record of 6-3-2 this season. The Golden Warriors and Chelmsford played to a 2-2 tie on Thursday at the Valley Forum in Lawrence.
Nathan Bonneau, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association, said in an e-mail Thursday morning that the agency had no comment on the probe at Andover High. He did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment Thursday evening, after Andover public schools detailed the allegations.