Texas High School Coach Reportedly Admitted That He Ordered Vicious Hit On Ref

920x920imagesThere is a new development in the controversy over two Texas High School players, Sophomore Victor Rojas, 15, and senior Michael Moreno, 17, who tackled a referee during a game earlier this month. The players said earlier that they were following the orders of John Jay High School assistant football coach Mack Breed. Now, there is a report that Breed admitted to giving such an order. Beyond the disciplinary issues, that also raises some interesting criminal and tort issues. Update: Breed has now been fired.

Breed reportedly told the players to target the ref because he said the official had used racial slurs. Principal Robert Harris stated the following in a letter:

“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.”

Students Rojas and Moreno however have been suspended.

The issue of when sports violence becomes a tort or a crime has long challenged courts in this country.

Some judges have been less tolerant of the idea of violence being an industry custom in hockey. In the case of Dino Ciccarelli of the Minnesota North Stars, he was jailed for a day and fined him $1,000 for assaulting Luke Richardson during a game. The court did not view the fact that an assault occurred inside a rink as opposed to the street as negating its criminal character.

Likewise, in a charge stemming from an assault during a Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks game, Marty McSorley was found guilty of assault with a weapon but was granted a conditional discharge.

Here the hit on the ref could easily be viewed as an assault ordered by Breed. That would also entail charges against the teenagers. Since there is no allowance for any such contact with a ref, it was clearly a premeditated assault occurring outside of the rules of the game. Breed could argue that he was not actually calling for a hit as opposed to the venting of anger. However, that would become a jury question.

The issue of proving intent beyond a reasonable doubt would not be present in a tort filing for battery, which must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence. We discuss this controversy in torts in the context of the case of Hackbart v. The Cincinnati Bengals involving a game between the Denver Broncos and the Cincinnati Bengals in Denver in 1973. The Broncos’ defensive back, Dale Hackbart, was injured by a blow by Bengals’ offensive back, Charles “Booby” Clark. The court ruled that the hit fell outside of the NFL rules and thus Hackbart did not consent to such a battery. The reason was that the hit violated the rules of the game. However, there was no discussion of whether the rules of the NFL differed from the practices or industry custom.

Of course, two teenage players are not a case of employees whose actions are attributed to an employer under respondeat superior. However, they are under his supervision and acted under his admitted instructions. That raises respondeat superior issues for the high school as well as liability for Breed.

Do you think that this should be a criminal case for Breed and/or the teenagers?

26 thoughts on “Texas High School Coach Reportedly Admitted That He Ordered Vicious Hit On Ref”

  1. Kids kicked off the team and suspended? Yes. A 15 and 17 year old know enough to know what he asked was wrong and what they did was wrong.

    Coach fired? Yes. Coach and players charged? Absolutely not. Waste of judicial resources and everyone’s time. The ref was not seriously hurt, the players and the coach have faced major scrutiny, ridicule, likely job loss, negatively impacting school grades and college admission ability; and further putting criminal charges on them at this point will only serve to make them more likely to be a burden on society down the road.

  2. Max-1 – for the sake of argument, let’s assume the coach is correct about the racial slurs. So, now what is he teaching? How to stand up for yourself against authority? You did notice the coach was black and black live matter so nothing should happen to any of them. They are all part of the current meme.

  3. “It’s sometimes nice to see a ref get smacked though.”

    That’s a troubling remark. I was a diamond rat as a kid. There was a ballpark down the street from my house. I spent summer days and evenings there. A retired Marine Sgt. ran a men’s softball league. He saw I knew the game and @ age 12 asked me to umpire. It paid good money for the 1960’s, $3 a game. Sarge worked the plate, and I worked the bases. The a-hole players[usually the worst players] would try and intimidate me. Sarge was a good mentor. He would step in if it was going badly, but for the most part he would let me handle it. After the game, Sarge would critique how I did. Add this job to my caddying @ a country club, and I learned a lot about adults @ a very early age. But, what the umpiring did was give me a unique perspective when I became a baseball coach as an adult. I would NEVER get on an ump for a bad call. The most I would say is, “You missed that one.” I would get on an ump if he was lazy, not hustling, and out of position to make a call. I’m pretty rough around the edges. But, being an ump/ref is a tough and thankless job. Anyone who ever played sports and KNOWS the game understands that.

  4. For Breed yes, not for the kids. Breed should be barred from coaching any sport at any level, then referred for prosecution. An appropriate sentence would be something like 30 days to be served on weekends.

    The kids should be kicked off the team for this year and sent to counseling.

  5. Everyone is assuming the ref made a racial slur based on what a coach that uses his players to attack someone, asserts. That is assuming a fact not yet in evidence.

    Emotions can get the best of athletes, and in the heat of the moment act violently. That is not the case here. This was calculated and premeditated. US law factors that in as the worst type of offenses.

  6. Back in the ’50s Maurice Richard used to slap linesmen on a regular basis. He once knocked one out. The frustration was the same. Quebecers were historically second class citizens and had to endure racism and bigotry at most games in the US and Toronto. In Detroit he decked a ref for an obviously biased call. He was suspended for the bulk of the season and the playoffs. This was significant as Richard was perhaps the best player on the ice at the time and played that well while fending off cheap shots and taunts from other players as well as the audience.

    However, Richard never went into a game with the intention of decking a ref. The players never conspired with or without a coach to attack anyone. In sports emotions get the better of some players. But the intent is always or should always be to play the sport without the violence. Both Hockey and Football are reigned in from time to time when they get out of line.

    The coach should be fired and the two players suspended for the rest of the year. The introduction of criminal charges might be warranted if this went further up the line or had resulted in significant damage to the ref. But as it stands it is bad sportsmanship within the sport and should be dealt with, within the sport.

    It’s sometimes nice to see a ref get smacked though.

  7. and then you have the two douches who assaulted Royals 1st base coach Tom Gamboa a few years ago. The judge specifically mentioned the “violent nature” of baseball when deciding on only probation and no prison time for the guy who specifically brought his teenage son onto the field of a major league baseball game with the express purpose of assaulting a senior citizen. It can go both ways

  8. Even the mob has rules and a business code of conduct when it comes to ordering a hit.
    What are the school’s employee and code of conduct rules? If Breed is a union member, then there are more rules.

  9. When the referee made the racial slur: Head coach: get out the megaphone. “Bozo the ref just called my player the N word. We are leaving the field until the high school system gets a real ref and not a bigot.” Then, leave the field. Take the helmets off. Hold the heads high. Point to the ref on the way off the field. Blow up his car on the parking lot.

  10. So, what is a coach encountering such racist comments by a referee to do —- in Texas? When does the infamous “stand your ground” law kick in?

  11. I don’t care if there were “racial slurs” or “sexual slurs” or just plan “slurs” – Nothing, I repeat nothing can justify knocking a ref down and then “spearing him”. Period.

    They’re playing a damn HS football game. This isn’t Iwo Jima. criminal and civil penalties should apply

  12. He was teaching students how to cheat and play dirty… you know, like most of the GOP. But that’s a different thread…

    As I recall from my sister and brother in-law’s teaching career, having just retired this year from teaching jr high and high school for 20 years, as the sport enthusiasts that they are, as coaches, they too, were teachers of their players. Even if they didn’t have a player in one of their classes, as coaches they knew that they are in ‘teachable moments’ every moment they interact with these student players. They understood the impact they can have on youth when they’re in your company looking for guidance and learning. Adults need to have that capacity to be effective ‘teachers’ and ‘coaches’ because, when it all comes down to it, it’s about children learning about life and authority figures guiding them along life’s path.

    Mack Breed seems to lack the ability to discern the obvious when it comes to shaping adolescence’s life…

  13. I’m surprised that Sherman was call a thug on this blog – there are so many vigorous opponents of pc speech here. Sherman did not slug anyone, rob anyone, rape anyone. He ranted and thumped his chest like many winners. Interesting that that made him a thug.

  14. Perhaps the players deserve a second chance but not the coach. He should be fired and barred from coaching. Ordering players to assault a referee is inexcusable. The claim that the ref used racial slurs, even if true, is NO excuse.

  15. “Do you think that this should be a criminal case for Breed and/or the teenagers?” No. (BTW, I seem to remember, but cannot confirm, that the referee was not injured.) (Oh, and has the referee sued the school? I’ve not seen that, either.)

    Look, the players got suspended, most likely for the rest of the season. They screwed up. They know it. And they will remember how they lost a part of their high school years for the rest of their lives. Why “pile on” punishment?

    Ditto the coach. Yes, he should lose his job. Yes, he should be shunned. But a criminal charge? Again, he’ll likely never be a coach again, probably not teach, either.

    Sometimes, good people do stupid things. Discretion and a sense of proportionality are both called for here.

    (Oh, the very few good people who have never done anything stupid that they regret, well, they become avid bloggers.)

  16. This brings up an interesting discussion on how this might be criminally prosecutable in Texas.

    I reference the Texas Penal Code under Title 5 Chapter 22 Assaultive Offenses:

    “Sec. 22.01. ASSAULT. (a) A person commits an offense if the person:”
    (1) intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another, including the person’s spouse;

    (2) intentionally or knowingly threatens another with imminent bodily injury, including the person’s spouse; or

    (3) intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact with another when the person knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative.


    (c) An offense under Subsection (a)(2) or (3) is a Class C misdemeanor, except that the offense is:


    (2) a Class B misdemeanor if the offense is committed by a person who is not a sports participant against a person the actor knows is a sports participant either:

    (A) while the participant is performing duties or responsibilities in the participant’s capacity as a sports participant; or

    (B) in retaliation for or on account of the participant’s performance of a duty or responsibility within the participant’s capacity as a sports participant.

    (d) For purposes of Subsection (b), the actor is presumed to have known the person assaulted was a public servant, a security officer, or emergency services personnel if the person was wearing a distinctive uniform or badge indicating the person’s employment as a public servant or status as a security officer or emergency services personnel.

    (e) In this section:


    (4) “Sports participant” means a person who participates in any official capacity with respect to an interscholastic, intercollegiate, or other organized amateur or professional athletic competition and includes an athlete, referee, umpire, linesman, coach, instructor, administrator, or staff member.

    There is a specific exclusion for assault constituting a Class B misdemeanor if the offender is attacking a person participating in a sporting event, but it excludes those persons who are involved in the game. So under this condition, the coach and the two boys are not criminally liable for the Class B Misdemeanor. But, it does seem to default to a Class C Misdemeanor for all other assaults, which presumably these actors might be liable for. It depends I suppose on whether if they are discharged from criminal liability because of the non-applicability of the B Misdemeanor or if they then fall under the lesser C Misdemeanor

  17. I think the kids and Breed should be charged criminally w/ the prosecutor offering the kids deferred prosecution if they flip on this renegade coach. Obviously the taxpayers will be paying damages for the actions of this reprobate. But, look for the race card to be played big time.

    On a related matter. A couple years ago JT did a post on Richard Sherman and his thuggish actions after a playoff game against the 49ers. JT was righteous, although he got a lotta crap for calling out a black man. You know, white privilege BS!! Anyway, Sherman has redeemed himself quite a bit. He has called out the violence instigated by some members of the Black Lives Matter group. In a Facebook post, Sherman talked about his growing up in Compton, doing wrong, but then taking personal responsibility for his life. He talked about no one can be kept down unless they are complicit. He had the courage to say All Lives Matter including cops. It was a moving post and as you might expect, Sherman has gotten called some ugly names. But, Sherman has also gotten some support from like minded, righteous black folk. I love stories of redemption. They are rare.

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