Oxon Hill's Mike Pearson, the most successful football coach in Prince George's County the past decade, and Bowie's first-year coach Gary Wrenn are among five coaches suspended for their involvement in an altercation during halftime of a Maryland state AA quarterfinal playoff game Nov. 16.
Pearson was suspended from coaching for the first five games of the 1988 season and Wrenn was suspended for the first three games by Prince George's County School Superintendent John Murphy following an investigation of the incident.
It was recommended Bowie assistant Rodney Yates not be rehired for the 1988-89 season because of his part in the encounter, which included the use of loud and abusive language. Ray Wrenn, an assistant coach and brother of the Bowie coach, was suspended five games for using abusive language and for sparking the confrontation.
Oxon Hill assistant Robert Cashwell was suspended for a year as a result of a physical confrontation with a Bowie coach.
Pearson and Gary and Ray Wrenn will not be allowed to attend the games but will be able to conduct summer and regular weekly practices.
Murphy approved the recommendations of Deputy Superintendent Edward Felegy, who along with a committee conducted the investigation.
According to witnesses, other sources and details of the committee's report, Bowie arrived at Friendly High School and went to the visitors' locker room despite being told it had been assigned the home team's locker room. Oxon Hill came dressed and did not go into any locker room prior to the game.
At halftime, Bowie reached the locker room area first. Oxon Hill then proceeded into the locker room it was originally assigned and discovered it was occupied by Bowie. Members of the Bowie coaching staff began using foul language as Pearson entered. When the Bowie team got up to leave, pushing and shoving ensued between players and coaches.
The teams returned to the field and there were no incidents during the game won by Bowie, 9-6.
Pearson said he was glad to be cleared of the initial allegations of making contact with Gary Wrenn, using abusive language and provoking the incident.
"They made some serious allegations against me and I was cleared of all of them. I didn't hit anyone, I didn't curse out anyone and it was my locker room from the beginning. So why am I suspended for five games?" Pearson said yesterday. "They said I used bad judgment. I didn't have time to do anything.
"Bowie goes into the wrong locker room fully aware they were wrong. That was proven. I enter the locker room assigned to me, get cursed out by that coach, my female statisticians get cursed out and I get a five-game suspension. I plan to take this to the next step. This matter is not over."
Ray Wrenn admitted cursing Pearson while a Bowie player admitted using profanity and making obscene gestures toward the females and was subsequently suspended from school.
Cashwell, an assistant principal at Gwynn Park Middle School, and Bowie Principal John Hagan refused comment. None of the Bowie coaches could be reached for comment.
Chuck Brown, athletic director for the county, said he hoped the suspensions would send a message to others.
"This is the first such incident we've ever had like this and it should never have happened," Brown said.