I-Team: What led to the Westfield football coach resigning

Player allegedly showed his "private parts" to a younger player

WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The 22News I-Team dug deeper into this story. 1st year Westfield football coach Rocco Fernandez resigned from his position October 5th, weeks after an alleged hazing incident was investigated.

The I-Team discovered through emails, a parent described the incident as a football player allegedly showing his “private parts” to a younger player, and Fernandez confirmed this. Two players were disciplined, but after an investigation, the school decided it was not hazing.

The I-Team obtained dozens of emails between Fernandez, the high school principal and athletic director. The emails show that the victim’s mother originally called this hazing and brought it to the coach’s attention, which led to the school’s investigation.

Former Westfield H.S. coach Rocco Fernandez. Image Courtesy: The Westfield News
Former Westfield H.S. coach Rocco Fernandez. Image Courtesy: The Westfield News

One player was suspended for one game, another player was suspended for a portion of a game, which Fernandez said was at the coach’s discretion. It’s unclear if the players were disciplined separately in school.

Fernandez, in an email, was not happy about the suspensions. An assistant coach wrote in another email sent to Fernandez that he did not believe the punishment was severe enough and he described the incident as “sexual harassment.”

Also, in the emails were concerns about how the coaching staff handled a players head injury.

The I-Team spoke with Fernandez who says he believes he would still be coaching today if he handled the suspensions differently. He told the I-Team resigning was the best decision out of respect to the players and coaches.

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