Mater Dei HS celebrates 3 Heisman Trophy winners amid ongoing sports programs review

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) — Following a homecoming ceremony Tuesday for Mater Dei High School’s latest Heisman Trophy winner, the school’s head football coach said the day’s celebration showed allegations of a culture of bullying at the school’s athletic programs welcomed, are unfounded.

With gym bleachers packed with students, Mater Dei celebrated history and welcomed home its latest Heisman Trophy winner, Bryce Young.

Staff said this is the first high school with three alumni to earn the honor. The Heisman Trophy is awarded annually in the country to an outstanding college football player.

The University of Alabama quarterback earned recognition at his alma mater when he shared the stage with ’64 and ’04 winners John Huarte and Matt Leinart.

Young said he is grateful to everyone who has helped him along the way.

“I couldn’t be here without my teammates, both in high school and college, all the coaches who have coached me my entire life,” he said. “My family was here, my parents. I’ve been blessed to have the people around me and the support system that I do.”

The event came as the school’s sports program faced various allegations of sexual assault and allegations that staff and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange (RCDO) have allowed for a culture that welcomes bullying on campus.

ALSO READ | Mater Dei High School faces allegations of assault and harassment as part of its boys’ water polo program

The former president of Mater Dei ordered an evaluation of the school’s athletic programs by a Sacramento law firm.

The school’s head football coach Bruce Rollinson was asked about the ongoing exam in a press conference after Tuesday’s ceremony.

“I think today shows you that unfortunately these allegations have no merit,” Rollinson said.

Rollinson told Eyewitness News he was under no pressure to succeed by any means necessary.

“I’m under no pressure at all,” he said. “I mean, we’re in spring training right now and moving on to the 2022 season. Of course I get legal advice from our great diocese and through our school and through my attorney and I go by what they say and I do what I do you know? Get kids ready to play soccer.

Both the school’s communications director and the RCDO’s deputy communications director said Tuesday they were still awaiting the results of the school’s sports program evaluation.

ALSO READ | Former Mater Dei High School football player sexually assaulted by teammates, police document alleges

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Laura Coffey

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