Two high school football players from a school near San Antonio, Texas were suspended and could face charges, after ramming into a referee during a game, according to KSAT.
The two defensive backs from John Jay High School hit the referee in the last moments of the game against Marble Falls High School. Video of the incident shows the referee, Robert Watts, who was watching the play from behind the defensive line, get hit from behind from by Victor Rojas. The hit caused the referee’s head to snap back. A second player, Michael Moreno, is then seen piling on to the referee who was already on the ground.
More than two weeks after the incident, the two football players told ABC's Good Morning America that their coach instructed them to hit the referee because of missed calls that hurt the team. They also said Watts used racial slurs, a claim the referee's lawyer disputes.
On September 23, ESPN reported that John Jay High School principal Robert Harris said the team's secondary coach, Mack Breed, admitted he "directed the students to make the referee pay for his racial comments and calls."
The following day, Breed resigned, according to ESPN.
The two players were suspended from school and the team, according to a statement released by the Northside Independent School District.
“The incident is extremely disturbing,” Pascual Gonzalez, Northside Independent School District executive director of communications said in a statement. “Not the sportsmanlike behavior we teach students.”
Gonzalez said the school will launch an investigation, including interviews with student athletes and the coaching staff.
The referee was “very upset” and is considering pressing charges, Austin Football Officials Association secretary Wayne Elliott said according to ESPN.
"The first thing we want is that those two kids never play football again," Elliott said.
Earlier in the game, two John Jay players were ejected from the game during a separate incident.
Marble Falls coach Matt Green said that John Jay High School football coach Gutierrez apologized after the game, according to the Associated Press.
“I’ve coached 14 years, and I’ve never seen anything like it,” Green said.
On Thursday, the State Executive Committee of the University Interscholastic League announced it suspended the two student players from all league activities for the rest of the 2015-2016 school year.
Breed was suspended for the 2015-2016 school year and put on two years of probation, which follows him throughout the state's school districts. He also received a public reprimand by the committee.
Gutierrez was also issued a public reprimand and put on two years of probation.
The Texas Association of Sports Officials is investigating Breed's allegations that Watts used racial slurs. Watts denied using any racial slurs in a testimony before before the committee.
Mary Ann Georgantopoulos is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Mary Ann Georgantopoulos at email@example.com.
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