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Light Punishment, Lingering Questions at Ref-Hit Hearing

Paul Steinbach

Football players and coaches representing San Antonio’s John Jay High School who were involved in the blindside hit on a referee during a game Sept. 4 were handed their punishment Thursday during a third hearing held regarding the incident.

SI.com reports that head coach Gary Gutierrez received two years probation and a reprimand. Senior defensive back Michael Moreno was given a one-year suspension. Sophomore linebacker Victor Rojas, received an indefinite suspension. Video of the Rojas knocking referee Robert Watts to the ground and Moreno spearing him has been viewed 11 million times on YouTube. The players have been assigned to an alternative school for 75 days.

Questions remain regarding what motivated the attack. The players have claimed on national television that Jay defensive backs coach Mack Breed ordered the hit. Breed took responsibility after the game, but later claimed he wrongly took the blame to protect the players. Faced with a possible three-year suspension, he was suspended for the remainder of the year and handed two years probation. He resigned in September.

At Thursday’s hearing, Breed denied the players’ allegations that he ordered the hit out of frustration over officials’ calls, player ejections and alleged racist remarks made by Watts. However, Breed did admit to saying “to no one in particular” and away from players, “That mother------ needs to pay the price.”

The Texas Association of Sports Officials announced that a private investigator found no evidence that Watts uttered any racial remarks, despite multiple Jay players claiming the opposite.

Results of an investigation by police in Marble Falls, where the game took place, are expected next week. Prosecutors will then decide whether to pursue criminal charges.

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