BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Starpoint Central High School’s state champion wrestling team has been pulled off the mats due to “serious allegations of inappropriate conduct by one or more members,” according to an email the district superintendent sent to parents.
The Niagara County Sheriff’s office confirmed to News 4 that there is an active investigation into the wrestling team’s conduct. So far, there have been no arrests or charges filed.
“I can confirm we have an active investigation involving the [Starpoint] wrestling team,” Niagara County Sheriff Michael Filicetti told News 4’s Sarah Minkewicz. “There have been no arrests yet. I can’t comment further at this time.”
The decision comes days before Starpoint was to host the Section VI Individual Championships on Saturday. The tournament that will determine Division I qualifiers for the NYSPHSAA Championships has been moved to North Tonawanda. Last month, Starpoint became the first team from Section VI to win the Division I title at the NYSPHSAA Dual Meet Championships.
Sean M. Croft, superintendent of Starpoint schools, disclosed the decision Tuesday in a message to parents obtained by News 4. Phone messages left with Croft, board president Jeffrey Duncan and athletic director Vincent Dell’Oso were not returned. The district released a statement confirming the contents of the letter Wednesday evening, after this story was published.
“The District is in receipt of serious allegations of inappropriate conduct by one or more members of the Varsity Wrestling Team,” Croft wrote. “After extensive discussions with and among the District’s leadership team and the District’s legal counsel, the Board of Education and I have determined that it is necessary to cancel the remainder of the 2022-23 season, effective immediately.
“Due to the involvement of law enforcement and other legal implications, we are not at liberty to disclose additional details concerning the underlying circumstances. We hope, however, that you understand and trust that we would not take such a significant action absent there being compelling reasons to do so. We also hope that everyone will respect the privacy of the individual wrestlers, coaches and other individuals who have been involved with the Varsity Wrestling Team.
“We understand that the timing of his decision is very difficult, and that many of you and your children will be disappointed by this news,” Croft wrote. “However, it is necessary in order to ensure that the processes moving forward can take place without impediment. The District takes seriously all allegations of inappropriate conduct. And as with every decision we make, the safety, well-being and security of our students, staff and community members are of the utmost importance.”
Section VI wrestling chairman Israel Martinez said the decision was made to relocate the sectional tournament late Tuesday night because of the uncertain status of Starpoint’s wrestling program. Martinez said he did not know any more details about the allegations against the Spartans, but confirmed Wednesday that the Starpoint wrestlers have been removed from the tournament.
“All I have been told is that it is an internal matter at Starpoint, and a board decision,” Martinez said. “But if the program is on hold, we can’t expect them to host.”
Jonah Bronstein joined the News 4 roster in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. Read more of his work here.