Seven student-athletes from Wynne High School in Arkansas have been suspended and two others have been recommended for expulsion following a reported case of extreme bullying that involved a noose inside the football team's locker room.
Reportedly the student-athletes on the Yellowjackets ninth grade football team attempted to place a noose around the neck of a fellow black football player inside the locker room before practice in late September.
Though the Wynne Public Schools District says it was a case of extreme bullying, the family of the victim said the incident was much more serious.
"They actually tried to put a noose around his neck and hang him," said Geremy Warren, the victim's cousin.
Warren said his 15-year-old cousin was the victim of a racial hate crime and that he feared for his life as his teammates tried to hang him.
"He said they were playing. After he started fighting them off," Warren told FOX13 News. "He saw they were serious."
Three white football players eventually backed off after they saw his cousin terrified.
The noose, though, left its mark, Warren said.
"He had little whips around his neck."
Superintendent Carl Easley said allegations of a hanging are not true, but he confirmed that there was what he called "a racially-motivated incident." The incident, though, was not criminal in nature, he said.
"The incident was turned over to the police department and they asked that we complete our investigation into the matter and then bring it back to them," he added. "That's all I can say at this time."
There has not been an official comment from the Wynne Police Department on the impending investigation. Mayor Bob Stacy did confirm the police did talk with Superintendent Easley.
"They interviewed the superintendent and as far as I know the family has not contacted the police department to file a complaint," Mayor Stacy said.
The mayor added Police Chief Jeff Sanders didn't expect criminal charges and that the school has requested to take care of the incident internally.
"So I feel like it's a simple case of horseplay and I just hope that's what it was," Mayor Stacy added.
Warren told FOX13 News his family hopes to take action.
"Attempted murder or something. They tried to hang him!," he said. "My little cousin told me he wasn't worried about it. He just wanted to pursue his career."
doors, but their parents can decide to have the hearings public.
The hearing are expected to take place Wednesday at 6 p.m.
Superintendent Easley said the school district has not decided on any employee discipline.
Wynne is 55 miles west of Memphis, Tenn.