SAN ANTONIO — An assistant coach at John Jay High School in San Antonio told his school principal that he ordered his players to hit a referee in a Sept. 4 game out of anger that the official used racist language, according to evidence obtained by Outside the Lines.
In a signed statement detailing his interactions with the head coach after the game, John Jay High School principal Robert Harris says the team’s secondary coach, Mack Breed, admitted he “directed the students to make the referee pay for his racial comments and calls.”
On Wednesday, 15-year-old John Jay sophomore Victor Rojas and 17-year-old senior Michael Moreno each attended disciplinary hearings. There was no immediate decision on their punishment.
On Sept. 4, Rojas and Moreno blindsided official Robert Watts late in the fourth quarter of a game in Marble Falls, Texas, on a deliberate tackle from behind — captured on video — that has now been seen on YouTube by more than 11 million people.
According to a sideline source and the accounts provided to Outside the Lines of four John Jay players, Watts used the N-word twice during the game, once before and once after the infamous hits, and also used language offensive to Hispanics.
Watts has declined to comment, but his attorney, Alan Goldberger, said Watts denies he used racist remarks of any kind.
Wednesday’s hearings will not be open to the public, but the statement from Harris provides a window into some of the evidence the hearing officer will consider when handing down a punishment to Rojas and Moreno.
Harris, who attended the game at Marble Falls, indicated he did not see Rojas or Moreno hit Watts late in the fourth quarter. Harris wrote in his statement that John Jay head coach Gary Gutierrez called him several times as the team made the nearly 90-mile trip home after the game, informing him that two John Jay players struck an official.
After reaching the school, Harris wrote, Gutierrez eventually met face-to-face with Harris in Harris’ car in the school parking lot.
“He then informed me that Coach Breed had disclosed to him [Gutierrez] that he directed the players to take out the referee,” Harris wrote. “[Gutierrez] stated that Coach Breed initially asked him what was going to happen to the players during their ride home from the game. After Coach Gutierrez informed him that the players would be removed from the team, he informed Coach Gutierrez that he directed the players to strike the referee.”
That meeting, in the early-morning hours of Sept. 5, was followed by another meeting in Harris’ office, at 6 p.m. that same day.
“I later met with Coach Breed at John Jay High School … in my office in the presence of Coach Gutierrez,” Harris wrote. “Coach Breed told me that he directed the students to make the referee pay for his racial comments and calls. He wanted to take full responsibility for his actions. Mr. Breed at one point during our conversation stated that he should have handled the referee himself.”
Breed has declined to comment publicly about what he told his players. He is expected to attend a hearing of the University Interscholastic League on Thursday in Round Rock, Texas, at which time the governing body of Texas high school athletics could sanction Breed and John Jay’s football program.
Wednesday’s hearings for Moreno and Rojas were held at the Northside Independent School District headquarters in San Antonio.
“If found guilty of violating the Student Code of Conduct, the range of consequences could range from assignment to alternative school to expulsion,” a school district spokesperson said.
Rojas and Moreno already have been assigned to an alternative school and are prohibited from even watching John Jay games as spectators. In an interview with Outside the Lines last week, they said it was Breed, whom they both said they consider a “second father,” who ordered them to hit Watts. Rojas and Moreno said Breed had grown increasingly angry about penalties, ejections and the alleged racial slurs by Watts.
John Barr is an investigative reporter in ESPN’s Enterprise Unit.