Texas high school players allege referee in incident used racial slurs

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

SAN ANTONIO -- Officials with a San Antonio school district say two football players accused of ramming into a referee during a high school game allege the referee directed racial slurs at them.

Northside Independent School District Superintendent Brian T. Woods says an assistant football coach accused of suggesting the students retaliate against the referee has been placed on leave.

Woods says the two suspended John Jay High School students will have a disciplinary hearing. Woods also says the district will file a complaint about the racial slur allegation with the Texas Association of Sports Officials.

Michael Fitch, the association's executive director, didn't immediately return a call from The Associated Press on Tuesday seeking comment.

However, Alan Goldberger, the attorney for the official, Robert Watts, told ESPN that his client is "outraged" about the allegation.

"He's not a happy camper about being falsely accused," Goldberger said.

Woods said if a racial slur was directed at the two players, the protocol should have been to let the lead official at the game know about it.

Stan Laing, the Northside school district athletic director, said that he hopes the incident serves as "a teaching moment."

"We're obligated to use this as a teachable moment ... As educators, we've got to take this opportunity to teach our young people two wrongs don't make a right,'' Laing said.

Mack Breed, a 29-year-old assistant coach at John Jay, was placed on administrative leave for allegedly telling the players that the referee "needs to pay for cheating us," the school district said in a statement Tuesday.

Earlier Tuesday, a sergeant with the Marble Falls Police Department said its investigation of the players will take at least a week to complete.

Sgt. Tom Dillard said prosecutors have indicated they would be receptive to filing charges if the investigation suggests that's warranted. Dillard said if charges are filed, it could be for misdemeanor assault, but that's not "chiseled into stone."

The school district announced that it is treating the incident as an assault on a school official, an offense that could lead to expulsion.

The incident, captured on video, happened during a game Friday between John Jay and Marble Falls High School, north of San Antonio.

The two defensive backs from John Jay -- identified as sophomore Victor Rojas and senior Mike Moreno by the San Antonio Express-News -- were suspended after one hit Watts from behind and the other subsequently speared him with his helmet.

Video shows Watts, who was watching the play from behind the defensive line, getting leveled from behind by a first player, causing Watts' head to snap back. The other player then is seen lowering his helmet and piling into Watts after he had fallen down.

"All of us are heartbroken over the situation that occurred at the game Friday night between John Jay and Marble Falls," Woods said in the statement. "The incident is shameful and in no way reflects who Northside ISD and Jay High School are."

The NFL Referees Association condemned the players' actions in a statement released Monday.

"These types of actions against any game official at any level are inexcusable," association executive director Jim Quirk said. "We fully support the suspensions of the players involved, along with a full and complete investigation by the Texas University Interscholastic League."

Information from ESPN's Michael C. Wright and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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