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Assistant Coach, Accused Of Telling Players To Hit Ref, Resigns

John Jay High School head football coach Gary Gutierrez testifies before the University Interscholastic League State Executive Committee Thursday in Round Rock, Texas. The school's principal and Gutierrez told the UIL that they believe assistant coach Mack Breed told players to retaliate against an official in the closing minutes of a game earlier this month.

In an incident caught on video, two John Jay High School football players blindsided a ref during a football game earlier this month in Texas. The footage went viral, the players were suspended, the referee was accused of using racial slurs against players and then two players said that assistant football coach Mack Breed told them to hit the ref.

Now, the fallout from the incident continues. Breed, who was placed on leave on Sept. 8, tendered his resignation today in a statement from his attorney, James Reeves.

According to the statement emailed to NPR, Reeves said Breed regrets how the situation unfolded.

"In hindsight, Mack feels he could have handled the situation better. For that reason, Mack has submitted his resignation and will move forward, taking responsibility for his role in the events that occurred. Mack never intended for the kids to hit or hurt the referee, but the result was the same."

But according to the statement, Reeves says the accountability should not rest solely with Breed.

"Some people are unfairly blaming one man, Mack Breed, for everything that happened at that game. Mack Breed has spent three agonizing weeks contemplating his future since the fateful football game in which two players struck a referee. It has been a difficult road for Mack as he has stood silently watching the spectacle. He has replayed that game in his mind many times wondering how it all went wrong."

Last week the two players, sophomore Victor Rojas, 15, and Michael Moreno, 17, said on Good Morning America that Breed had told them to take retaliatory action against the referee, Robert Watts, for using racial slurs. This is corroborated by a statement from John Jay's principal, Robert Harris, first reported by ESPN's Outside The Lines:

"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."

But in today's statement, Breed's attorney seems to put the blame on Moreno.

"During his media tour, Michael Moreno resorted to the historical defense of 'I was just following orders.' However, we are all responsible for our own actions, and his defense will fail in this situation as it has failed in the past," Reeves said in the statement. "Moreno paints himself as a saint on television while withholding the truth that shows how out of control he was in that game. Moreno fails to mention that he was not ejected after striking the referee. He stood by while an innocent black player, Trenton Hobdy, was wrongfully ejected for Moreno's hit on the referee. ... His behavior is exactly what one would expect from a rogue player blaming a coach for the player's actions."

Watts has denied using any racial slurs and has called for criminal charges against the players and coach. Rojas and Moreno were suspended and sent to another school as the investigation continues. They are eligible to return to John Jay High School in the spring.

At a hearing today in front of the University Interscholastic League State Executive Committee, Thursday in Round Rock, Texas, it was announced that John Jay football head coach, Gary Gutierrez could also face punishment for the incident, according to the Associated Press.

Calls to Northside Independent School District for comment were not returned.

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