Review of post-game scuffle prompts the firing of assistant

Oakland Mills coach is told he didn't `restrain anyone'

October 26, 1999|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Assistant Oakland Mills football coach Justin Payne said last night that he has been fired from his coaching job for his role during a post-game incident after Saturday's football game between Oakland Mills and Long Reach.

Oakland Mills principal Marshall Peterson, Oakland Mills athletic director Ken Klock, Long Reach principal David Bruzga, director of high schools Gene Streagle and coordinator of athletics Don Disney viewed a videotape of the incident yesterday before the action against Payne was taken.

"My athletic director, Ken Klock, called me [yesterday] with the news that I was fired from all three of my coaching jobs at Oakland Mills because the tape showed that I wasn't helping to restrain anyone and that I was pointing, and that some players went in the direction I was pointing," Payne said. "I feel I was unfairly judged. I didn't punch anyone. I didn't throw anyone down. I didn't curse anyone out. It's disheartening. I thought I'd be treated more fairly.

"As far as not restraining anyone, I wanted to make sure I didn't touch any students from either school. I don't think a coach should be touching players."

Payne, 27, said he had just signed last Thursday to be the head coach of the junior varsity girls basketball team. He also was an assistant boys lacrosse coach. In football, he coached the linebackers and running backs for the Scorpions.

He played football and basketball at Oakland Mills and has two brothers and two sisters who were athletes at Oakland Mills.

Payne was coaching his third season of football and is a special education assistant at Murray Hill Middle School. He has a degree in history from Coppin State.

Head football coach Ken Hovet could not be reached late last night for a reaction to Payne's firing, but earlier in the evening said he had not yet heard of any ramifications from the incident.

Peterson said he had reviewed the videotape and that there was an outcome, but that he could not discuss the situation because it's a personnel issue.

It is not known if disciplinary action has been taken against any other coaches or students.

"It comes down to personnel decisions by the principal," Disney said. "The investigation is not near being completed. We still have a lot of people to interview. We are looking for any other videotapes that might be available. This is going to be a thorough investigation.

"We are also investigating security and police reaction to the incident. There did not appear to be any police on the field. The tape told a lot of things and could be used as a training video for coaches."

School officials will not allow the media to view the videotape as long as the investigation continues, Disney said. The probe could last as long as 30 days.

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