Florida coach cleared of wrongdoing after making players do drills in Walmart parking lot

Florida coach cleared of wrongdoing after making players do drills in Walmart parking lot

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Florida coach cleared of wrongdoing after making players do drills in Walmart parking lot

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Atlantic (Delray Beach, Fla.) football coach Matt Dixon has been cleared of a hazing allegation stemming from his decision to stop the team bus on the way home after the loss and having players do up-downs in a Walmart parking lot, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Investigators determined the players performed 6-8 up-downs and were pulled over for a maximum of 10 minutes before the returning to the bus for the ride home.

Nancy Wait, Volusia County Schools’ director of community information services, told the News-Journal that Dixon told an assistant coach to pull over the bus to avoid a fight on the bus.

“There was a little bit of disorder, and it was a safety concern,” Wait said. “The kids still didn’t settle down when they pulled over, so they decided to calm them down, get off the bus and do this as a team. There was a consequence; if you’re not a member of the team, turn in your uniform.

“That was a decision made by the coach. That was not anything that came out of the investigation that he should be reprimanded for.”

Dixon will be on the sideline Friday night against Deltona.

EARLIER:

A Florida high school football coach is under investigation for alleged hazing related to a postgame workout in a Walmart parking lot en route back to the school following a Friday night loss. Atlantic’s current head coach is Matt Dixon, and Atlantic lost it’s game on Friday at Cocoa by a 56-0 score.

As reported by Orlando CBS affiliate WKMG, an Dixon is under investigation for his action’s following his team’s most recent Friday night loss. According to the mother of one player, the team bus stopped en route to the school’s campus following a loss, made the players unload and perform up-downs, an exercise where athletes run in place, dive to the ground and bounce quickly up again. Players were allegedly told that they had to perform the exercise or they would be kicked off the team, with multiple players refusing and eventually facing that fate.

The mother of one athlete who has since left the team over the incident is calling for the coach to be punished, categorizing his actions as hazing.

“They were humiliated. The boys were tired and then you got to come out and do those up downs? It’s not called for. There’s other ways of disciplining those children. He should be held accountable the same way. They turn in their equipment, he turns in [his] coaching,” she said.

The Volusia County School District confirmed to WKMG they were launching an investigation into the coach’s actions, though they would not provide any timeline about potential resolution, or an indication that the status of the coach in question has been altered in any way during the school district’s investigation.

A few players, however, told the Daytona Beach News-Journal they were not subject to hazing and defended the coach. Senior linebacker Robert McKinzie spoke to the paper through a Twitter direct message.

As a player of Atlantic High School football program, I have never encountered or witnessed any shape or form of hazing. There are consequences for your actions. A couple players and her son were constantly warned by not only senior leaders of the team, but the coaching staff as well to quiet down. Yet, they disrespectfully and insubordinately proceeded with their antics. Therefore, coach presented an option for the entire team (do up-downs or quit the team). A couple players, along with her son, made their decision. Now they have to live with the decision they made. My teammates and I will look past this irrelevance and focus on concluding our season with a winning record.

A second Atlantic player, Jacquez Davis, defended the coach, as well, also via Twitter.

We had players being disrespectful on the bus and talking a lot like we won a football game, which we did not. We were not being hazed; it was nothing like that. It was just a way to get back focused. We are trying to rebuild Atlantic, (to) make Atlantic football known around here. Yeah, some of the players did not get off (the) bus and did (not perform) the up-downs but those are the ones who did not want to be a part of us. Nobody on the bus being hazed or bullied; I repeat, nobody. Our coaches would not let any of that happen.”

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