An assistant coach has resigned after an investigation into whether two of his players intentionally targeted a referee during a game on Friday.
Mack Breed, a 29-year-old secondary coach at John Jay High School in San Antonio, Texas, admitted that he instigated the brutal attack on the referee. Video of the incident has gone viral, with millions of views on YouTube. The video shows sophomore Victor Rojas blindsiding an official, Robert Watts, from behind, sending him to the ground. A second John Jay player, senior Michael Moreno, then dives on top of Watts.
Breed told the school’s principal that he ordered the hit, according to a letter obtained by ESPN. He said he ordered the hit after the referee made racial slurs during the game.
Both players have been suspended from school and their team while the incident, which happened in the final minutes of John Jay’s loss to Marble Falls High School, is investigated by the school district and league.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Mack Told His Players the Referee ‘Needs to Pay’
According to WFAA, the players told school district officials that Mack said, “that guy needs to pay for cheating us,” or “words to that effect.”
The players told the school district they felt “a lot of frustration” over what they perceived to be wrong or missed calls by the referees during the game.
According to ESPN, Breed said in a statement to school officials, he “directed the students to make the referee pay for his racial comments and calls.”
ESPN reports that Watts used the N-word twice during the game, once before and once after the hits, and also used language offensive to Hispanics. Watts has not commented publicly, but his attorney denies that he made any racial slurs.
Breed has been coaching at the school since 2010. The school district said Breed’s statement was “inappropriate” and could have led to the incident. The district said head coach Gary Gutierrez was not aware of what Breed said to the players.
2. He Was a Star Quarterback at John Jay High SchoolBreed was a dual-threat quarterback at John Jay High School, graduating in 2004.
He was one of the top 10 prospects in the San Antonio area during his senior year, and was also an all-state center fielder in baseball.
3. He Played Defensive Back at the University of MissouriBreed played safety at the University of Missouri from 2004 to 2008. He was injured during much of his time with the Tigers, according to his biography on the school’s website, and played in only a few games as a reserve.
He came to the school as a quarterback, but was moved to safety after a redshirt season.
4. His 2 Players Are Facing Possible Criminal ChargesThe incident is now being investigated by the Northside Independent School District, which John Jay High School is a part of, along with the Texas Association of Sports Officials and the Texas University Interscholastic League. Local police are also investigating and the players could face criminal charges.
“This is disturbing,” Northside Independent School District spokesman Pascual Gonzalez said in a statement. “It is not the sportsmanlike behavior that we teach our students. We are cooperating fully with the University Interscholastic League with this investigation.”
Wayne Elliott, the secretary of the Austin Football Officials Association, told ESPN that Watts, who is from Austin, is “very upset” and wants to press charges.
“The first thing we want is that those two kids never play football again,” Elliott told ESPN.
5. The Players Also Told Officials the Referee Made Racial Slurs
The players told school district officials that the referee directed racial slurs toward the players, according to WFAA.
Allegations were also made on social media that there is more to the story than what is shown on video. Supporters of John Jay High School have claimed that the referee made racial slurs before the hit. One Twitter user, @belladiaz33, said, “How is a ref going to call players “n*****s” and get away with it ..”
Another Twitter user, @Nick_lopez24, said, “I don’t blame jay for smacking that ref when he or one of the refs called someone a n****r and wasn’t calling the plays.”“It’s really unfortunate. We’re still getting stories on different things,” Northside ISD Athletic Director Steve Laing told KENS-TV. “That’s why we’ve got to make sure to get the entire story before we basically share it with everybody, because we don’t want anything out there to be assumed. We want to be very clear on exactly what happened.”
The referee, Robert Watts, told TexasHSFootball.com, “Libel and slander have already been committed against me. I will be contacting the appropriate people soon and any statement from me will come at a later date.”