WINTHROP, Mass. (MyFoxBoston.com) -- The head coach of Winthrop High School's hockey team and one other coach were placed on paid leave after allegations surfaced of underage drinking inside the team's locker room.
Town Manager James McKenna confirmed to FOX 25 that hockey coach and former professional player Dale Dunbar and one other coach were both placed on leave.
"It's not the news we want to hear. We want to send the complete opposite message to our children that it's not okay to do these sort of things, particularly in public facilities," McKenna said.
Winthrop police and school officials launched an investigation after an officer reportedly found beer cans and smelled alcohol inside the locker rooms at the middle school Friday night.
Winthrop Police Chief Terence Delehanty said officials are investigation allegations that there were high school players drinking inside the locker room and coaches drinking inside another locker room. He told FOX 25 the team had just returned to their locker rooms at the middle school to take showers after a hockey tournament.
The charges that could stem from this incident would be contributing to delinquency of minors and minors in possession of alcohol, according to Delehanty.
There are also MIAA and school rules that may have been violated, so suspensions could follow as well.
"It's extremely serious when you have students and staff mixing with alcohol in the same building, which happens to be a school. None of it is good," Delehanty said.
Dunbar is not only head coach of the hockey team, but he's also the rink's manager. He is a Winthrop native and played hockey in the NHL and Canada.
Residents were disappointed in the hometown hero.
"The kids do look up to him and he's supposed to be a representative for the kids to look up to," resident Carolyn Flaherty said.
"I think it's a disgrace. If you can't trust your child in school, where can you trust them?" resident Peter Rogaris said.
Dunbar's attorney released a statement Wednesday, which said the hockey coach was "unfairly placed in a dim light by reports of alleged beer drinking by high school athletes last Friday." The statement went on to say that he did not "procure or condone the drinking of alcohol by players or students."
"He does not tolerate, and would never allow, such misbehavior to take place on town property or in his presence. Even the hint of misconduct by Dale in this matter is pure fiction," the statement read, in part.
No charges have been filed by Winthrop Police. Winthrop Public Schools Superintendent John Macero would not comment on the incident, only saying the school district has zero tolerance for alcohol and that they are currently investigating allegations of underage drinking.
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