Greg Goodwin was not looking to get back into coaching, but under the circumstances, he felt obligated to return.

Last week, Goodwin was named the interim boys' basketball coach at Absegami after coach Mel Bennett, a former ABA and NBA player, was suspended following an alleged hazing incident.

Goodwin, who retired last season after 12 years as the girls' basketball coach at Absegami, said that in addition to the suspension to Bennett, three varsity players, of which two were projected starters, have been thrown off the team.

"Last week was very tough, but this is best to keep things going for the kids," Goodwin said.

Athletic director Steve Fortis said he was prohibited from discussing the situation, referring all calls to school district spokesman Steven Ciccariello, who was unavailable for comment.

Goodwin also wouldn't discuss the specifics.

Galloway Township Police Sgt. Kevin Mott said he was unable to discuss the situation and would not confirm a report in the Atlantic City Press in which he was quoted as saying the case had been turned over to the prosecutor's office.

Madelaine Vitale, spokeswoman for Atlantic County Prosecutor Ted Housel, provided this statement when questioned: "It is the policy of this office not to comment on the existence or not of an investigation unless there is conclusive evidence of criminality or charges have been filed."

Goodwin has a long coaching background. He was the boys' basketball coach at St. James (which has since closed), Millville and Absegami.

For the last 12 years, he coached the Absegami girls' team, winning two state titles and five South Jersey championships. His final team last season won the South Jersey Group 4 championship and finished as The Inquirer's No. 1-ranked South Jersey team.

Goodwin was taking a graduate course that he completed Thursday and watched the team scrimmage the next day before conducting his first practice Saturday.

Even before the players were dismissed from the team, Absegami was expected to have a rebuilding season.

Goodwin said all five starters from last season had graduated. He said the Braves will be extremely young, with three sophomores projected to start, along with one junior and one senior.

"I had a great first practice with them, and the kids are very upbeat," Goodwin said. "Our goal is to see the team get better each day."

Absegami will open its regular season at 7 p.m. Friday at Egg Harbor Township.

Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225 or mnarducci@phillynews.com.