Students who participated in an NFL-style prom draft in Newport Beach said they rented a venue, dressed up in sports coats and then put themselves on the clock -- two minutes each -- to select a date for the school prom.
The draft attracted both seniors and juniors, about 40 male students in all, according to members of a group calling itself the 2014 Corona del Mar Senior Prom Draft Committee.
The draft has been criticized by school administrators, and the principal at Corona del Mar High School urged parents to talk to their children about "the seriousness of this type of activity."
Just as a cheating scandal at the Newport Beach school drew national attention this year, news of the prom draft rocketed across the Internet.
In a letter to The Times, members of the draft committee -- who are not being identified because they could face disciplinary action -- said the event was "planned and organized with only the best intentions in mind."
The Corona del Mar High students also expressed concern the attention drawn to the draft could put the June prom is in jeopardy. In an email to parents, the school's principal said she would "hate to have to cancel it."
Though one student said he was aware a junior had paid $140 to move up the draft board and get a higher pick, authors of the letter said "there's no money exchanged in the senior draft ever."
The students said the draft took place at two different venues, one for seniors, one for juniors. The seniors used a numbered ball roller to determine their pick in the draft, while juniors drew pieces of paper containing numbers.
"There's no numbering order of the most desirable girls," the letter said.
The intent of the draft, which has been described alternately as "creepy" and "sexist" on Twitter, was to avoid the infighting and controversy that often follows the selection of prom dates, one student said.
"It's about camaraderie," he said. "It's a fun thing to do with the guys."
Though the draft happened last week, most of the girls haven't been officially invited yet, the senior said.
Newport-Mesa Unified Trustee Katrina Foley said the thought that students spent money in the draft points to a larger problem at the affluent high school.
"They probably believe it's not offensive or objectionable and that's part of the problem," she said. "A lot of this stuff comes back to wealth and being responsible with that wealth."