AUSTIN, Texas – Victor Rojas, a student at John Jay (San Antonio) involved in a September 2015 on-field attack on a referee that sparked national outrage, received permission from the University Interscholastic League (UIL) to resume participation in competitive sports for the 2017-18 school year.
Rojas and his family appeared at a UIL Executive Committee hearing on Tuesday to discuss his eligibility at their request.
The committee declined to reinstate Perez, now a junior, for this school year, but unanimously agreed to allow him to return to competition by a vote of 5-0 for what would be his senior year under UIL probation. By being on probation, he would be automatically dismissed from UIL events if he were guilty of unsportsmanlike conduct.
The committee ruled that the John Jay athletic coordinator and administration will determine whether Rojas will be allowed to compete should he submit a petition to play.
Northside Independent School District spokesman Barry Perez said Rojas may be required to sign a contract with specific behavioral or other stipulations before being allowed to return. It has not been determined whether he would be allowed to train with the football team in the spring.
Michael Fitch, the executive director of the Texas Association of Sports Officials (TASO) opposed the reinstatement on behalf of his organization, according to the San Antonio Express-News.
“We wish him future success as he enters adulthood and would actually invite him to someday join TASO and be surrounded by officiating professionals that can lead to his further development,” Fitch told the UIL. “However, allowing him to return as a high school football player at this time would greatly diminish the UIL values of sportsmanship and discipline that we know you all strive to instill.”
Michael Moreno, the other student involved in the attack on official Robert Watts, has already graduated.
Moreno and Rojas were removed from school for 75 days as punishment for the incident and attended alternative school. Both were suspended from UIL activities for the remainder of the 2015-16 school year after the incident.
The players said an interview with “Good Morning America” that an assistant coach told them to hit the official because he had used racial slurs.
Watts denied making racial slurs and an investigation by the officials association found no evidence of slurs.
The coach, Mack Breed, resigned from the school and later accepted a plea agreement in December 2015 on charges of misdemeanor assault. He was placed on probation for 18 months and was required to permanently surrender his Texas Teaching Certificate, complete an anger management program, perform 120 hours community service, and pay restitution to Watts.
Breed initially told the school principal that he instructed the players to hit the official but later recanted in a statement given to the school district’s human resources department. In the second statement, Breed wrote that he took the blame to protect the two players from being expelled from school. Breed resigned from his position Sept. 23, 2015.
In an appearance before the UIL Executive Committee on Oct. 15, 2015, Breed denied that he directed the players to “hit, take out, destroy, hit or do any bodily harm to any players or officials.” He did, however, confirm that he said, “This (expletive) has got to pay the price” in reference to Watts.
Contributing: Nicholas Zamora, KENS