Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Pop Warner Team Accused of Saints-Style Bounties
"Bountygate" scandal broke. According to a lengthy piece in The Orange County Register:
The New Orleans Saints got all the headlines, but a Pop Warner team in Tustin, Calif., reportedly was offering cash to 10- and 11-year-olds for knocking opponents out of the game four months before the |
Tustin Red Cobras head coach Darren Crawford and assistant coach Richard Bowman, whose powerhouse squad went undefeated during the 2011 regular season, told their team to target specific players on the youth football teams from Yorba Linda, Santa Margarita and San Bernardino, said then-assistant coach John Zanelli and three players interviewed by the Register. …
One of the targeted players, an 11-year-old running back from the Santa Margarita Stallions, suffered a concussion after he was hit by a Red Cobras player in the Pop Warner Orange Bowl last November. The player who delivered the hit was paid by Crawford after the game, Zanelli said.
Although other coaches and league officials — including Tustin league president Pat Galentine, who was an assistant coach for the Red Cobras in 2011 — denied to reporters Keith Sharon and Frank Mickadeit that a bounty program was in place, Crawford admits he did tell his players to target opponents but never offered any type of payment in return for a big hit or causing an injury.
Sharon and Mickadeit then write:
However, the parent of one of the Red Cobras players said money was paid to his son after the playoff game against Yorba Linda.
"My son said he had won the prize," said the father, whose name is not being used to protect the identity of his son. "He had a good, clean hit. The kids voted his play as the play of the game. He showed me one $20 bill. He said the coaches, plural, gave it to him."
That parent said he had told Galentine about his son receiving money in a phone call Friday morning. But when reached by the Register, Galentine said he was having difficulty with his phone and didn't hear what the parent said.
Officials from the Orange Empire Conference, which oversees Pop Warner football in the Tustin region of California, investigated the allegations by interviewing coaches, parents and players from the Red Cobras and decided not to dole out punishments or sanctions, the Register reports. Officials at Pop Warner's national office in Langhorne, Penn., said they are aware of the Tustin allegations but that it was the OEC's responsibility to determine any wrongdoing. Nevertheless, Josh Pruce, Pop Warner's national director of scholastics and media relations, expressed concern about the allegations. "There shouldn't be that issue in Pop Warner football," Pruce said. "There is no place for it. The kids are out there to learn football. There is no place for a bounty system."