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5 Franklin players suspended in attack

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Five Franklin High football players have been suspended from school and the team for an undetermined period of time after assaulting a teammate in a locker room, and coach Greg Fuhrman has been suspended indefinitely because of lack of supervision during the incident, according to police and school officials.

The player was struck on the back of the neck with a broom, hit by a thrown chair and punched several times, and a player climbed on his back during the Aug. 30 attack after an afternoon football practice, according to a report filed by Baltimore County Police Officer Jeff Barrick. The player reportedly was treated at a hospital for a sore neck and bruised right shoulder after initially declining medical aid at the scene.

Police said the player's mother decided not to press charges. He has remained with the team, said Baltimore County supervisor of athletics Ron Belinko.

Franklin forfeited Saturday's scheduled home game against Pikesville for safety reasons after suspending practice for several days after the incident. "We didn't want to put the kids in a game situation with only a day or two of practice," said athletic director Jill Myers. "We didn't feel we had had enough days of practices to put them into a competitive situation."

Practices were halted "until we could get things resolved by speaking to the people we needed to," Myers said.

The Indians are planning to play visiting Overlea on Saturday under the direction of interim coach Mike Thomas.

Those suspended could miss up to 10 days of school, be expelled "for good," or be referred to one of the county's alternative schools, according to Charles Herndon, director of communications for Baltimore County schools.

The attack occurred between 5:30 and 6 p.m. after the players followed a teammate to the locker room with plans to "beat him up," and one of the accused turned out the lights, according to the police report. The player told Barrick his teammates "were mad at him because they were getting punished" in practice "for him not giving 100 percent" at practice, according to the report.

Fuhrman was reached at home Tuesday night and would not comment. Thomas, the Indians' varsity basketball coach and an ROTC instructor, replaces him pending the completion of an investigation by principal Dean Terry and Willie Foster, director of the county's northwest area secondary schools.

"One of our concerns was that the locker room was not being supervised by the coach or any of his staff," Herndon said. "There should have been some supervision there that probably would have prevented this. "

Fuhrman's coaching status ultimately will be in the hands of northwest area schools superintendent Donna Flynn, who said yesterday that she hoped to arrive at a decision concerning his status "by early next week."

"I'm reviewing the statements and the information given from teachers and students and those involved with the incident," Flynn said. "I'm really trying to expedite the situation."

Herndon said Fuhrman could be reinstated or permanently removed as coach. His position as social studies teacher was not affected.

Terry said an assistant to Fuhrman has stepped aside pending the outcome of the school investigation.

"We've put the program in the hands of Captain Thomas, my ROTC director, who coached the JV a few years ago," Terry said. "He'll see to it that the football program goes on this year and that the athletes will be prepared."

Fuhrman is 20-40 in two years at Franklin and four years at Kenwood. His best season was in 1995 at Kenwood, when the Bluebirds went 6-4.

Known as a disciplinarian, Fuhrman is well-respected by the school's staff and students, according to several staff members. One student called Fuhrman "the best teacher I ever had."

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