Texas coach and former Mizzou safety accused of ordering players to hit referee resigns

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ROUND ROCK, Texas — Mack Breed, the assistant coach from John Jay High School in San Antonio, Texas, who is accused of directing two players to tackle a referee during a game, has resigned, Northside Independent School District Superintendent Brian Woods said Thursday.

Head football coach Gary Gutierrez spoke during the University Interscholastic League hearing, both defending Breed and deriding his “poor judgment call.”

“I love coach Breed. He was on staff already when I became head coach. He is an upstanding man, he is a man of integrity,” Gutierrez said, but “he violated the sanctity of what coaches are” by telling the players to hit the referee.

Breed joined the coaching staff in 2010. He played quarterback at John Jay before attending the University of Missouri, where he played safety. He has not publicly provided his side of the story.

ESPN reported Wednesday that it had “evidence” that Breed told school principal Robert Harris that he “directed the students to make the referee pay” for alleged racial comments and calls Breed disagreed with.

CNN has been unable to confirm the report and its attempts to reach Breed for comment have been unsuccessful.

Jay Downs, an attorney for umpire Robert Watts, took the stand and reiterated what another attorney for Watts previously told CNN: that his client uttered no epithets toward the players. Watts, who has provided a statement to law enforcement, is suffering from post-concussion syndrome and didn’t attend the hearing, the attorney said.

News of Breed’s resignation came a day after the players, who intentionally hit an official during a game this month and were suspended from school, attended a disciplinary hearing.

Pascual Gonzalez, a spokesman for the Northside Independent School District in San Antonio, said that because Michael Moreno and Victor Rojas are minors, no information about the hearing would be released.

The boys’ lawyer said they spoke at the hearing and took responsibility for what they did.

“They understand that they had a choice, they made a choice, it was the wrong choice and they’re just looking for fairness,” attorney Jesse Hernandez said, calling both of them “good kids.”

Hernandez said he presented academic and disciplinary records as evidence. Neither boy spoke to the media.

The teens were suspended from school for three days. They have been attending an alternative school since then.

The state’s governing body of all school extracurricular activities began a disciplinary hearing Thursday morning. The players, coaches and game official Robert Watts were invited to attend the public meeting.

Admission, with a caveat

Their intentions on the now-viral video were clear: The two John Jay players targeted a game official.

First, Rojas came from behind and tackled Watts to the ground. Moreno then charged in headfirst — leading with his helmet — and hit Watts again.

Moreno and Rojas were ejected from the September 4 game against host Marble Falls High. No criminal charges have been filed, but Marble Falls, Texas, police said they are investigating.

Woods, the superintendent, said during Thursday’s hearing that, as a punitive measure, the teens would not be allowed to rejoin the football team.

The players told ABC they were following orders.

Referring to Breed, the assistant coach, Moreno said: “While on the sideline, he pulled me and another player over and he told us, and I quote, ‘You need to hit him.’ ”

Moreno added that Breed said, “You need to hit the ref. He needs to pay the price.”

Breed was on paid administrative leave before his Thursday resignation.

The reason Watts was targeted, Moreno said, was because of unjustified calls as well as “racial slurs being thrown at players” purportedly by the referee. Rojas said he heard Watts tell one of his Hispanic friends “to speak English, this is America.” Rojas and Moreno both allege they heard Watts call an African-American teammate the n-word.

Watts has denied saying these things and is considering legal action against the players.

“We’ve heard these allegations before, blaming the victim for the crime,” Watts’ attorney, Alan Goldberger, said on September 9. “That doesn’t have any credibility, and (Watts) is not happy about being falsely accused.”