An assistant coach has been implicated in the incident in which two high school football players targeted and tackled a referee last Friday in Marble Falls, Tex. According to a statement from the Northside Independent School District, John Jay High School assistant coach Mack Breed, 29, is alleged to have said “that guy needs to pay for cheating us” before official Robert Watts was hit by two Jay football players.
The students said that the referee — who was knocked to the ground — had used racial slurs. The incident is being treated as an assault on a school official. Breed, who has worked at the school since 2010, has been placed on administrative leave.
“All of us are heartbroken over the situation that occurred at the game Friday night between John Jay and Marble Falls. The incident is shameful and in no way reflects who Northside ISD and Jay High School are. There are almost 3,000 students who attend Jay HS, a school that has a long rich history which is well earned,” NISD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian. T. Woods said Tuesday. “NISD has formal processes that will be followed according to our policy. The process includes taking written statements from the students involved, the coaches, as well as the game officials. That process began over the weekend and continues today. It is important that emotions stay out of the process and that we act on facts.”
According to the school district, assault consequences range from placement at a discipline alternative setting up to expulsion from NISD and assignment to the Juvenile Justice school that is run by Bexar County. The names of the students, who are minors, were not officially released, per federal privacy laws.
Breed, is one of 11 football coaches at Jay High School, and officials say his alleged suggestion to the students was inappropriate and could have led to the incident. The head coach, Gary Gutierrez, knew nothing of the conversation, according to the school district. The NISD is filing an official complaint with the Texas Association of Sports Officials about the racial slur allegation and is cooperating with the officials’ association and the University Interscholastic League in this investigation.
As for the school, they are not planning to do anything drastic. The football program will continue. “It simply is not fair to the 200 students in the program to pay for the actions of two. This incident is shameful and deeply troubling,” the NISD statement said. “Our responsibility as educators is to use this as a teaching moment to the rest of the student body and especially to the athletes that actions have consequences and that making the right choices is important.”
Friday, the NFL referees association gave their support to the official. “These types of actions against any game official at any level are inexcusable. We fully support the suspensions of the players involved, along with a full and complete investigation by the Texas University Interscholastic League (UIL),” NFLRA executive director Jim Quirk said in a statement. That association has no direct involvement with the UIL.
Tuesday, the National Association of Sports Officials commented on the matter as well. “What occurred that night on that field is unacceptable and we in the officiating community will not accept it. NASO has taken steps to ensure that Robert is provided the full benefits of NASO insurance, legal and consultation services,” they said via a statement. “Whatever course of action he intends to take in order to have his assault properly redressed, NASO will stand in support of him.”
Previous reports have revealed details of the scenario, in which there was some confusion surrounding which players were ejected from the game after the blindside attack on the official. According to the Austin American-Statesmen, the senior player involved was not ejected due to an error by the referees. On the next play, he hit the opposing quarterback late, while he was taking a knee. That hit garnered him a 15-yard-penalty, but not an ejection.
As of Tuesday morning, video of the initial hit had been viewed nearly seven million times.
Watts says that since the footage went viral, he’s been mistreated after a John Jay High School player took to social media to accuse him of using racial slurs on the field.
“I like to keep my officiating quiet; unfortunately this will be big news,” Watts said to TexasHSFootball.com. “Libel and slander have already been committed against me. I will be contacting the appropriate people soon and any statement from me will come at a later date.”
Marble Falls police chief Mark Whitacre said Tuesday that the investigation is still ongoing.