AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - A Texas group that oversees sporting events in schools held an emergency meeting on Wednesday to consider punishing a San Antonio high school football team after two players were seen in a viral video blindsiding an official during a game.
University Interscholastic League officials said players and coaches from John Jay High School conducted a series of unsportsmanlike actions in its game against Marble Hall High School last Friday that included the hit on the referee.
Executive Director Charles Breithaupt said the Northside Independent School District, which oversees John Jay, has to prove that its players and coaches can be trusted. He added he is not sure what provoked the event, but the actions on the field cannot be tolerated.
“You need to answer that at some point, to justify Jay’s continued participation as this committee chooses to allow it to. It may not,” Breithaupt said, San Antonio broadcaster KSAT reported.
No decision was reached at the meeting.
“There was punches thrown through the game,” said board member Gil Garza, also the athletic director for the Dallas Independent School District, adding coaches should have done more to defuse a tense situation.
In a video seen nearly 10 million times on YouTube as of Wednesday, the two defensive players are shown lining up behind the official, with one running into him from behind and the other plowing into him when he was down.
The two players have been suspended from the school and were ejected from the game at Marble Hall, which John Jay lost 15-9.
The Northside Independent School District said on Tuesday John Jay assistant football coach Mack Breed, 29, was put on administrative leave as the district investigates 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 players and the referee have not been identified by authorities. The players have alleged the official directed racial slurs against them, a charge an attorney for the official said was false.
“He didn’t make any racially charged or inappropriate comments to these or any other student athletes on the night of the game, Alan Goldberg, an attorney for the official, told NBC on Wednesday.
“This wasn’t passion turning into violence, this was premeditated crime,” he said.
Police in Marble Hall, northwest of Austin, have launched a criminal probe of the incident.
Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Addiitonal reporting by Susan Heavey in Washington; Editing by Eric Beech