Tiffin, Ohio — The Tiffin Columbian High School Athletic Hall of Fame committee released a statement Wednesday in which they offered a “sincere apology” for the committee’s decision to allow a convicted sex offender to participate in the induction of new honorees.
Over the weekend, the Hall of Fame committee, which is a separate entity from the school district, recognized this year’s Hall of Fame inductees including the 1998 girls basketball team — which includes a person who was previously removed from the Hall of Fame as an individual member due to what the committee described as a “legal and ethical violation involving sexual misconduct.”
Last week, in a statement released to the public via the Tiffin City Schools website, the Hall of Fame committee said while they recognize “this may be a sensitive issue for some in the community, [they] believe that all members of the 1998 girls basketball team have the right to the included as part of this team induction.”
On Wednesday, after multiple community members voiced their concern over the decision, the committee released a statement offering a “sincere apology” and admitting they made an “error in judgement.”
“As a committee, we attempted to honor the outstanding accomplishments of a team. Unfortunately, we did not meet the expectations of the community,” the committee wrote in a statement signed by committee co-chairs Daniel Hartsel and Larry Kisabeth. “As a committee we did not do enough to advocate for the survivors and their families that were affected.”
The committee said they “did not fully consider the impact of this decision and how it would affect the community as a whole.”
“We are sorry that this did not meet community expectations. The committee will be re-evaluating the process within the month of September,” the statement reads. “Again, the committee offers a formal apology on this situation and will work diligently to ensure that the nominations and future inductees are held to the highest standards of our community.”
On Tuesday, Tiffin City Schools Superintendent Michael Zalar released a statement in which he also apologized for the Hall of Fame committee’s decision, although the district does not have direct authority over the committee.
“The decision by the selection committee to include a member of the team who was previously removed as an individual member of the Hall of Fame for sexual misconduct was a mistake,” Zalar wrote in his statement. “It was also a mistake to invite this person onto school grounds and include them as a participant in the recognition ceremony.”
Zalar said in moving forward, he would like to use this “unfortunate situation” as an opportunity to address “not only this specific issue, but other issues involving the safety, health, and wellbeing of our students, staff, and community.”
“I am committed to working with all members of our community to ensure that your voice is heard and Tiffin City Schools is doing everything it can to promote a safe and healthy learning environment for our students,” Zalar wrote.