Now former John Jay assistant football coach Mack Breed is not allowed to coach at a University Interscholastic League school until he appears before the State Executive Committee.
Breed, who has resigned, is alleged to have told players to target umpire Robert Watts during a Sept. 4 game against Marble Falls. Breed initially admitted that he had directed the players to make Watts pay for missed calls and racial slurs. He later recanted.
Watts, through his attorney, has denied making any racial remarks.
“We want to make sure that he doesn’t land somewhere else before some final decision is reached,” State Executive Committee chairman Mike Motheral said. “He might be cleared of all wrongdoing. We don’t know what’s going to happen there.
“This does not bring with it today any suspensions. If things turn out the way they appear to be, there will be some suspension at some point. For now, we want to insure he is not coaching somewhere else at this point.”
The attorney for the two players involved issued a statement expressing outrage at statements made by Breed and his attorney in which Breed recants what he initially told school principal Robert Harris.
“We are shocked and disappointed by the press release Mack Breed and his attorney published today,” the statement said, according to ESPN. “In a desperate act of self preservation Breed continues to reveal his character as he disgracefully attempts to throw a student under the bus for following the very directions Breed gave him.
“The record is clear that Mack Breed admitted to Coach Gutierrez and Principal Harris that he did in fact direct student-athletes to hit referee Watts. Breed later followed up his admission with a written statement to Principal Harris, confirming that he directed student-athletes to hit the referee.
“We believe these facts speak clearly enough that no further comment is necessary at this time.”
The Jay High School assistant football coach who admitted he told some of his players to go after a game official before two Mustangs defensive backs attacked umpire Robert Watts in a game against Marble Falls on Sept. 4 has recanted his prior statement about the incident, Northside Independent School District officials confirmed during a Thursday hearing.
The news of the coach’s conflicting statement was first reported by TEGNA partner KENS5.com reporter David Flores.
In his second statement, secondary coach Mack Breed wrote that he took the blame in the incident to protect the two players from being expelled from school, one of the sources told KENS5. But Breed denied that he told the players to go after Watts.
ESPN reported Thursday morning that Breed has resigned from his position, according to Breed’s attorney. Breed will no longer testify at the UIL hearing Thursday, the attorney told ESPN.
In a statement to ESPN, attorney James Reeves said, Some people are unfairly blaming one man, Mack Breed, for everything that happened at that game. Mack Breed has spent three agonizing weeks contemplating his future since the fateful football game in which two players struck a referee. It has been a difficult road for Mack as he has stood silently watching the spectacle. He has replayed that game in his mind many times wondering how it all went wrong.”
Dr. Robert Woods, the superintendent of Northside ISD, confirmed at Thursday’s UIL hearing that Breed is no longer with the district.
“That individual is a no longer an employee of the school district,” Woods said. “The statements while somewhat contradictory indicate there is a reason to believe a student or more than one were given a directive to make some sort of contact with the umpire.”
Breed was placed on paid administrative leave pending an NISD investigation after the incident. A 2004 Jay graduate, he has coached at his alma mater since 2011.
ESPN reported Wednesday Breed admitted his complicity in the incident to Jay principal Robert Harris in a meeting on Sept. 5, saying he “directed the students to make the referee pay for his racial comments and calls.”
Harris’ signed statement on his interaction with Breed and Jay head football coach Gary Gutierrez following the incident is part of the NISD’s investigation into the matter.
But Breed later retracted his original statement, denying he told the players to go after Watts, KENS5 reported. Breed’s signed second statement is included in the report the NISD sent to the UIL. The players have said Breed told them to go after Watts.
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Breed tells a different story in his second statement.
“I wrote a statement on Sept. 5 about an incident that occurred on Sept. 4,” Breed wrote in his second statement. “This statement is written to explain why the previous statement was not entirely true.
“I never told anyone to hurt or target anyone on Sept. 4. To understand that statement, you must know who I am. I’m 29 years old and have been coaching for six years. My job in working with these kids means the world to me. I don’t have any children, so they are my own sons. I would take a bullet for my kids if I had to.
“That being said, that is what I did Friday night after the game,” Breed wrote. “Me and my head coach (Gutierrez) were sitting across from each other on the bus, so we started talking about the events that took place. Throughout the conversation, I started to realize how serious it could be for the boys at that point, so I took the blame for them.
“I did that hoping the kids would still be able to play and not get expelled from school,” Breed wrote. “The following day, we were watching film as a staff and I was called into the principal’s office to write a statement about what I told the head coach on the bus. Again, I did this thinking the kids would be let off the hook and that everything would be fine.
“I didn’t realize the statement made on Saturday was going to be forwarded to district office. I assumed it was going to be used to help save the kids. Now that I’m giving a formal statement, I want to be honest about the situation that occurred on Friday night.
“If the coach would have told me to write a statement on what happened at the game, I would have wrote one similar to this one,” Breed wrote. “Instead, when I wrote a statement about what I told him (Gutierrez) I wrote a false statement based on our conversation from the night before in an effort to protect the kids. That is why the statement from Sept. 5 is so vague.”
Woods was questioned about the two statements and their contradictory statement.
“I’ll say to you, I have not spoken with Coach Breed directly so I am always hesitant to draw a conclusion without given an individual due process,” he told the committee. “That being said, my opinion is that the majority of the evidence indicates that a remark like this was made to at least one student prior to the incident that impacted Mr. Watts.”
Asked specifically what was said and to whom, Woods said he could not “tell you exactly what was said on the field that night.”
“I don’t know that I can say that every statement says it the exact same way,” Wood said.
“As best as I understand it, Coach Breed indicated to two students that the official needed to pay or some remark to that effect. One of those students agrees with that account; the other does not. One of the young men who was involved in the incident against Mr. Watts alleges he was not told that directly by the coach but was told by one of the students who heard it from the coach.”
The two players have been assigned to the NISD alternative high school for 75 days and can return to class at Jay starting Jan. 15, their attorney said Wednesday. They were suspended from school after the incident.
The players are not at the hearing, although the UIL hopes they will speak to them by mid-October.
The University Interscholastic League is the governing body for extracurricular activities for the state’s public schools and a handful of private and charter schools.
Several Jay players have alleged Watts directed racial slurs toward black and Hispanic members of the team during the game, according to the NISD’s investigation. Watts’ attorney, Alan Goldberger, has denied the allegations.
While Breed now denies he told the players to target Watts, there is evidence corroborating the statements by the players that the coach directed them to go after the official, one of the sources said.
Breed could be suspended for a maximum of three years if the State Committee Executive rules that he influenced the players to target the official. Breed will be prohibited from coaching at a UIL school until he goes before the State Executive Committee.
Harris and Gutierrez were asked about Breed, their relationship with him and his conflicting statements. Both said they believe Breed’s initial statement rather than the second statement. The second statement was provide to Human Resources, rather than the principal.
“I love coach Breed,” Guttierez said. “He was on the staff already. He’s an upstanding man. He has a four kids. He is a man of integrity. He had a poor judgment call that night. That’s not who he is and what he stands for. As a coach, I know the impact we have and I know he violated what coaches are with his poor decision. Based on my conversations with him and what I know about it, I feel his first statement is what I would believe.”
Said Harris, who met with Breed the night after the game, “I love Mack Breed. He was a student at the school when I was vice principal. I’ve known him to be a great young man.
“I did ask him if he directed those students to take that action and he confirmed that he did. We had a conversation about that being inappropriate and that not being reflective of who he is. I advised him I needed a statement. He went into an adjacent room and wrote a statement that he directed the actions.
“I instructed him to meet an HR rep at 8:45 on Tuesday morning. He gave that statement to HR and I did not receive until a day or two later and know it was a different.
“But with the evidence that I have privilege to look at, I would go with statement No. 1.”