An assistant coach for John Jay High in San Antonio is alleged to have said, “this guy needs to pay for cheating us” before two John Jay players appeared to target and intentionally hit a football official during Friday’s game.
The coach, Mack Breed, has been placed on administrative leave following Northside Independent School District protocol, spokeman Pascual Gonzalez said during a news conference Tuesday and according to a summary of events provided by the school district to TEGNA partner KENS5.
The district said Breed’s “suggestion was inappropriate and could have led to the incident.”
The 29-year-old Breed, the team’s defensive backs coach, has been with the district since 2010 and is a 2004 Jay graduate. He played football at Missouri.
At the news conference, the district said head coach Gary Gutierrez was not aware of the conversation between Breed and the players. District officials say they have full confidence in Gutierrez.
Northside ISD athletic director Stan Laing said he did not believe that Jay was treated unfairly during the game.
After Friday night’s game, Laing said, Breed asked Gutierrez about the status of the two players involved in the incident.
“He wanted to know what was going to happen to those secondary players,” Laing said. “At that point, Coach Gutierrez told him that’s behavior we’re not going to tolerate. He (Gutierrez) reported that to me and then we started the investigation.”
Laing expressed disappointment in the allegations regarding Breed.
“I’ve known Coach Breed for a while,” Laing said. “He’s a product of our school district. He was an athlete at John Jay. That’s why it’s heartbreaking because I know what the young man stands for. He does a great job. I’m not going to speak for Coach Breed right now. I’m going to assume, allegedly, emotions got the best of him based on his opinion on officiating and his comments. That’s what’s very difficult for us because that’s not what we’re about.”
In the video, a Jay player wearing jersey No. 12, can be seen running into Watts, who is standing in the center of the field, at full speed. The player starts at the Jay 5 and barrels into Watts, who had his back to him, at the 12.
A second player, No. 81, then dives into Watts, leading with his helmet. Watts ejected No. 12 but mistakenly ejected a player wearing No. 7, instead of No. 81, after the play.
The district called the incident “shameful and deeply troubling” but said it does not plan to shut down the football program because it would be unfair to the 200 other students involved. The school said it intends to use this as a “teaching moment.”
“Given the information we have today, we are not canceling the football season for John Jay,” Woods said. “We simply think it’s an issue of fairness not to punish hundreds of students for the actions of a small group. The incident is shameful to us and is deeply troubling to all of us who for many years have been associated with athletics and with extracurricular activities in our school district.
“Our responsibility as educators is to use this as best we can as a teaching moment for the rest of the students and athletes at John Jay High School as well as at all of our high schools.”
The district said the incident that has gained national attention – including a video that has gone viral – might have been caused by missed calls. The players alleged the umpire used racial slurs toward them.
District officials said that they are in the process of filing a complaint to the officials’ association regarding the allegations of racial slurs. The official, who was handling the umpire’s duties during the game, was part of an Austin-based crew and is a member of the Austin Football Officials Association. The game was played in Marble Falls.
Laing said the official allegedly directed a racial slur toward a player “eight or nine plays” before the climactic incident during a brief verbal exchange between the two. Laing did not identify the player, but TEGNA partner KENS 5 reported Sunday that the player is Moses Reynolds, who plays quaterback, wide receiver and free safety. Reynolds was playing quarterback when the official directed a racial slur at him.
Reynolds was later ejected for trying to throw a punch while playing on defense, but he didn’t hear another racial slur from the official. The official allegedly made a second racial slur after he was hit by the two players on the play that sparked the controversy.
“At this point, we can definitely say there were two” alleged racial slurs, Laing said. “But we’re still investigating that.”
Laing said that Northside has talked to Marble Falls to see if any of its players heard the alleged slurs and that Marble Falls reported back that the player said they had not.
The district said it intends to cooperate with the officials association and the UIL in the investigation.
The UIL announced that it will hold an emergency hearing Wednesday.
“The University Interscholastic League supports the initial disciplinary measures Northside ISD has taken and the UIL State Executive Committee will continue the investigation at an emergency hearing tomorrow,” the statement from the UIL read.
“The committee will hear a report on alleged UIL rules violations by San Antonio Jay High School, students and coaches involved in the incident. The State Executive Committee has the authority to impose additional sanctions as appropriate.”
The committee can publicly reprimand or suspend a student-athlete, but has more options to deal with participating schools. The UIL can choose to impose a reprimand, public reprimand, forfeiture of contest, disqualify teams from district honors up to three years, or a mandatory disqualification.
The players who have been suspended from school will be taken to a disciplinary hearing and the incident will be treated as assault on a school official. Punishment could range from the alternative disciplinary school to being assigned to the school run by the Juvenile Justice system.
“We hold all of our students who participate in extracurricular activities to a higher standard,” Woods said. “We have an extracurricular code of conduct that holds them to a standard that rises above what we hold our general student population to. We have formal processes for investigating these allegations and those processes are underway and will be in accordance with our policies.
“The process includes taking statements from the student-athletes who participated that night, from their coaches as well and game officials. That process began over the weekend and continues today. One thing I’d note is it is important to try to remove the emotion from this incident. We’ve got to make decisions based on the facts that we collect in our process.”
Laing said Northside’s investigation would focus on three layers.
“We’re looking at the students’ actions and the coach’s alleged actions and comments. And we’re looking at the comments that were made by the official,” he said. “In no way are the actions of those two students a reflection on the kids in that program. Those kids (on the Jay football team) are going to circle the wagons. That the value of athletics.
“Adversity teaches endurance. The alleged comments by the coach is in no way a reflection of the Jay coaching staff whatsoever. I’m not going to speak for Coach Breed, but if that did happen, he let emotions get the best of him. The alleged racial comments . . . I think all of you in here know that in regard to athletics, that is not a reflection of the value that athletics has had on this society.”
Laing expressed hope that maybe something positive can be gleaned from an ugly incident.
“As educators, we’ve got to take this opportunity to teach our young people that two wrongs don’t make a right,” Laing said. “What that means is that you have a choice to do what’s right or do what’s wrong. As educators, as a coach, we’re in a position that we have a responsibility to teach kids to do what’s right.”
Meanwhile, as was reported in our podcast, Sgt. Tom Dillard from Marble Falls police said preliminary interviews have been conducted, including with umpire Robert Watts. The police will continue their investigation and and the prosecutor will decide whether to press charges against the players. Dillard said he hoped to have the investigation finalized within the week.
Contributing: KENS and KVUE