Killeen: District could face sanctions over middle school melee

(File)
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KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) The Killeen ISD could face University Interscholastic League sanctions after self-reporting a melee during a middle school football game on Oct. 23 as a result of which seven Palo Alto Middle School players were suspended and four players were dismissed from the team and a coach was placed on administrative leave, Superintendent Dr. John Craft said in an interview Thursday.

Earlier this week the district released a statement in which it said 10 players were suspended for one game and three were dismissed.

Craft said he has seen snippets of videos of the incidents that occurred during the game against Eastern Hills Middle School.

He said the district has been transparent about the melee, but because of the length of the investigation needed to be sure everyone involved was interviewed and that all information related to the incident was gathered before making details public.

He declined to comment on whether the coach who was placed on administrative leave, Nicholas Parker, has been involved in any other such incidents.

Tensions escalated during the game at Eastern Hills, which Palo Alto lost 33-0, and exploded after a series of late hits, he said.

Four Palo Alto players were ejected and seven others were flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, he said.

High school coaches have talked with Palo Alto players this week about sportsmanship, competitive sports and working together as a team, Craft said.

The high school coaches will also talk with Eastern Hills players.

Craft, in a statement released earlier this week, said “such conduct was absolutely reprehensible and will never be tolerated in this school district.

"There was a great deal of bad sportsmanship"

During the game on Oct. 23, officials flagged Palo Alto players and their coach repeatedly for late hits, unsportsmanlike conduct and other penalties, district spokesman Terry Abbott said earlier this week.

“They were verbally abusive to the officials and the players of the other team. At one point, the coach would not leave the field,” he said.

“Officials and school administrators who witnessed the scene have given statements about the egregious misconduct of the coach and the players both during the game and afterwards,” he said.

“Palo Alto Middle School players and the coach behaved entirely inappropriately. There was a great deal of bad sportsmanship, verbally abusive behavior, and a number of penalties from the referees to the team and coach," he said.

A parent of a Palo Alto football player says her son heard racist language.

"I asked did they win. All he could say was 'no' because the game was over. There was a big altercation. He heard the refs and coaches get into it and racial slurs being used toward the coach and students from the referees," Kendra Hayes said.

"There was flag after flag. He said they felt antagonized after a while, there was just so many flags being thrown," Hayes said.