AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Texas police have started a criminal investigation of an incident in which two high school football players crashed into a referee from behind during a game, officials said on Tuesday.
The police department in Marble Falls, northwest of Austin, said it was weighing assault charges after Friday’s game at Marble Falls High School against John Jay High School of San Antonio.
The prosecuting attorney is receptive to filing charges if the investigation bears that out, Marble Falls Police spokesman Sergeant Tom Dillard said. He said the investigation could take about a week.
The Northside Independent School District, which includes John Jay, said assistant football coach Mack Breed, 29, was put on administrative leave to investigate reports he told players “that guy needs to pay for cheating us” in reference to the official for calls the team felt were unfair.
The names of the official and the players have not been released by police.
The two players were ejected from the game, which John Jay lost 15-9, school officials said. They now face a disciplinary hearing.
The two players believed the official had made racial slurs toward them, Stan Laing, athletic director for the Northside district said at a news conference.
The football official denied making racial slurs in an interview with Austin television station KEYE.
The school district said it is filing a complaint with the Texas Association of Sports Officials against the referee about the suspected racial slurs.
In a video of the incident, which aired on television stations and was seen more than 5 million times on YouTube as of Tuesday afternoon, the two John Jay players are seen lining up behind the official, with one running into him from behind and the other plowing into him when he was down.
Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin and Lisa Maria Garza in Dallas; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Bill Trott