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Western Hills-Dater High School football season back on with new coach after hazing incident

Posted at 6:18 PM, Sep 16, 2021

CINCINNATI — The football season is back on at Western Hills and Dater High School, where practice and games were suspended after video of an alleged hazing incident circulated online, but former head coach Armand Tatum won’t be on the sidelines.

Julian Jones, an assistant coach at Withrow High School, will take the reins instead. Cincinnati Public Schools officials named him Thursday as Tatum’s replacement.

The Aug. 30 incident that stalled the season and moved the district to fire Tatum involved Western Hills players holding their teammate down in the locker room and pulling his clothes off.

A short video of the interaction was posted to social media, prompting the district’s inquiry, Tatum’s firing and a wave of backlash from parents and players who believed he should have been allowed to stay.

"He's an amazing man," said Antonio Willis, a former Western Hills-Dater football player, at a protest against the decision. "He always tells us to be great sons at home and great students in the classroom."

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters does not plan to press criminal charges against anyone involved, he said in a Wednesday news conference.

Deters described the clip as showing normal behavior among teenage boys and said Tatum, who did not appear to have been involved in the altercation, deserved to keep his job.

“Frankly, I am stunned by the reaction of Cincinnati Public Schools,” he said. “This is — if you have ever played football, been a football coach — from all accounts that have been amassed, this football coach is a good guy. He was helping these kids in a way that they needed.”

Jones will hold his first team meeting with the players on Friday, and Western Hills will play Woodward High School next week as scheduled.