Copyright 2016 Albuquerque Journal
Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)
La Cueva High's head football coach is on leave pending an Albuquerque Public Schools investigation into a postgame incident that occurred following the Bears' Oct. 28 district game against Eldorado.
A video of Brandon Back pushing La Cueva student Remington Swanson surfaced after the game on social media, but made it to APS district offices in the last couple of days.
The district has put Back on leave as it looks into the matter.
"It was very brief, and out of context," La Cueva principal Dana Lee told the Journal on Tuesday, referring to the video in question.
At the end of La Cueva's 31-28 victory, a large number of La Cueva students, despite being warned multiple times by the public address announcer, spilled onto the field to congratulate the football players. But the coaches, Back said, feared that they might instigate Eldorado players as the teams shook hands after the contest at Wilson Stadium.
"The coaching staff were trying to push kids back toward our stands," Back said in an interview with the Journal on Tuesday. "We were trying to keep a volatile situation from happening."
As for the interaction in question, this was how Back described what happened:
"I was pushing kids. I pushed him, and he didn't like getting pushed, and that's when he yelled at me and pushed on me and cursed me out."
Back said his ensuing push was not premeditated. Lee agreed. The student, Swanson, fell over another person, Back said.
Moreover, Back said he spoke to the student's father the day after the game, and also met with Swanson two days later, on that Monday. Swanson competes on Back's track and field team in the spring.
"Me shoving him was not intentional, I was just trying to get the kids back," Back said. "We wanted to keep these kids safe and separate and try to keep it from escalating."
Lee said about 80-100 students came onto the field after La Cueva's win, even with extra security on hand that night for Albuquerque's biggest prep football rivalry.
"I do know that coach Back had a conversation with the young man and the family of the young man involved and they were all good," Lee said. "He has known the family for a long time."
A message left late Tuesday with APS was not immediately returned. It is unknown how long the investigation will last.
Asked if she wanted Back to remain as La Cueva's head coach, Lee said: "I am comfortable with him continuing on as football coach. At this point, I feel he and the coaching staff were put in a difficult position that evening, and they reacted within a few seconds."
The father of the student, Allan Swan-son, told KOAT-TV that he didn't blame Back for what happened.
"If you ask me, I know it was my son, but his (Back's) actions were entirely appropriate," he told the station. He also said his son was being unruly before he was shoved by Back.
The school received a letter from the New Mexico Activities Association about the fans coming onto the field.
La Cueva's season ended last weekend with a 56-28 loss at Las Cruces Oñate in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs.
Back, who just completed his fourth season as the Bears head coach, said he hopes he will be quickly exonerated.
Read More of Today's AB Headlines
Subscribe to Our Daily E-Newsletter