10/21/2014 09:44 EDT | Updated 12/21/2014 05:59 EST

Football coaches suspended at New Jersey school where hazing, abuse alleged

PARLIN, N.J. - The coaching staff of a high school football team rocked by charges of sexual assault and hazing has been suspended.

The Sayreville board of education suspended head coach George Najjar and four assistants at its meeting Tuesday night.

Seven members of the Sayreville War Memorial High School team have been charged with crimes ranging from hazing to aggravated sexual assault over what happened last month. Their names haven't been released because they are under 18.

The school's football season has been cancelled.

Emotions ran high at Tuesday's meeting. Numerous current and former players gave statements in support of Najjar, who has built the school's football program into a regional power.

Najjar didn't comment before the meeting.

Prosecutor say the students who've been charged attacked four other students between Sept. 19 and Sept. 29 and one of the victims was kicked.

As what would have been game time on the planned homecoming night neared last Friday, the lights at Sayreville War Memorial High football stadium stayed off and the field remained empty.

Parents in the township have complained that the whole team is being punished.

Schools Superintendent Richard Labbe has stood by his decision to cancel the rest of the football season and has said the time has come for students and others to step forward when bullying occurs. He said the district has launched a harassment, intimidation and bullying investigation of all its athletic teams.