McKinley High School head football coach Marcus Watley and six of his assistant coaches have been shot in what Canton City school officials have called a misguided attempt to spread order.
The Canton City School Board on Thursday unanimously voted not to renew the training contracts of Watley, assistant coaches Cad Brody and Tyler Thatcher and assistant baseball coach Romero Harris, who is in charge of the weight room. In the same vote, the board disqualified assistant soccer football coaches Frank McLeod, Zachary Sweet and Josh Grimsley for future coaching positions.
Canton City School Superintendent Jeff Talbert reiterated his remarks Wednesday when he announced that coaches would take more disciplinary action. He said a nearly week-long investigation in the district found that on May 24, Kochra was engaged in non-compulsory strength and conditioner training at the high school assistant gym, which was considered inappropriate, disrespectful and divisive.
Talbert said assistant coach Badre El Bardawil, who was also sacked along with another coach on May 26, still has an assistant coach because there was no evidence that he acted in the same way as other coaches.
Talbert said the surveillance video board had given administrators the information they needed to justify their recommendations. He again declined to provide details of what happened that day, saying the video would not be released because of federal student privacy rules.
The family of a football player accused Watley and his assistant coach of forcing them to eat whole pepperoni pizza on May 20 as punishment for volunteer strength and conditioning training, contrary to Israel’s Hebrew religious beliefs. The Canton Repository has agreed not to disclose the name of the 1-year-old, who received interest from Division I College.
But Watley-appointed attorney Peter Pattakos said Thursday that the version of the show was exaggerated and partly false. His comments were supported by five McKinley soccer players who attended school board meetings in support of their eight coaches.
According to Pattakos and the students, the player has the ability to leave at any time and the player says he will not eat pork, after which Watley offered him a chicken nugget instead of pizza. They said the player decided that the pepper would open the paper and eat it.
The students said the players apologized to them and the coach.
Pattakos was in charge of an assistant coach, whom he did not name, to exaggerate the situation by informing administrators and the player’s family. Pattakos said his faith wanted a job with assistant coach Watley.
He blamed the district for conducting an immediate and incomplete investigation, noting that Watley was interviewed for only 16 minutes and only three of the 40 players present were interviewed.
Pointing to the players, Pattakos said the community demanded a full and thorough investigation and explicitly rejected it.
Calling Watley a rising star, Pattakos said Watley is heartbroken to be away from his team, but he believes he did nothing wrong.
Patakos said there was no motive (to harm). He was trying his best to teach an extraordinary athlete an important lesson.
After the board vote, Potakos yelled at the superintendent and the board: It was a bad decision. He was rushed away. It did not serve the community.
After the vote, Talbert rejected Pattakos’ claim that the district’s investigation had been expedited, noting that the video provided enough information to determine if their coaches had behaved inappropriately.
Counselors will be available for soccer players on Friday, Talbert said.
Attorney Ed Gilbert, who represents the 1-year-old football player and his family, said Thursday that he agreed with the school board’s decision to fire the coaches, but added: . We’ve lost a lot of races here. No one won.
Gilbert, who did not attend the school board meeting, said the players were devastated by the situation and continued counseling. He disputed Patakos’ statement that Watley provided the player with chicken nuggets or any alternative food.
Thursday’s board action only affects the training deal. Talbert said further action could be taken on the contracts of the four sacked coaches Watley, Grimsley, McLeod and Sweat, Talbert said.