South River football coach suspended 3 games over paperwork issue

Erxleben says he didn't file accident report after Seahawks player suffered back injury

September 03, 2010|By Katherine Dunn, The Baltimore Sun

South River football coach Steve Erxleben will return to coach the Seahawks this fall, but his suspension was extended through the first three games of the season for failing to file the proper paperwork after one of his players suffered a back injury and was hospitalized Aug. 16.

Erxleben said he forgot to file an accident report, which should have gone to the school principal.

"It was a mistake," he said. "But it's my fault. I don't want to miss any games. I don't want to miss practice, but you have to pay the piper. That's what we teach our players. If you make a mistake, you have to accept the consequence and I have to admit to that, too."

Erxleben, in his sixth season as the Seahawks' coach, was suspended indefinitely Aug. 24. The incident was quickly investigated so a decision could be made before the season opener Friday night against Glen Burnie.

Earlier this week, Kevin Maxwell, the Anne Arundel County Public Schools superintendent, imposed the suspension through the Sept. 17 game.

Because details of the incident were sketchy when the suspension came to light last week, Erxleben was eager to quiet speculation that he had somehow contributed to the injury.

"A lot of misinformation came out about it," the coach said. "The guy who's acting as head coach [Mitch Suplee], he said in the paper, 'We're not testing anybody's manhood.' It's not 1980. It's not 1970. We're not Bear Bryant. We're not doing that."

The injury occurred on a noncontact passing drill, but Erxleben said he did not see it. The injured player, a sophomore defensive back the coaches were trying out as a receiver, felt only tightness in his back at first, but he had fractured a vertebra and was hospitalized for four or five days, the coach said.

In the locker room after practice, Erxleben said, the player told him he thought he would have to go to the hospital. He said his father was waiting for him in the parking lot and would take him to the hospital. The coach said he had regular contact with the player while he was in the hospital.

Erxleben watched the Seahawks' scrimmage last week from the school roof but said he would not attend the games, although he is allowed to be in the stands. He has not been allowed to have contact with the team during his suspension and is weighing his first words to the players upon his return.

"I've thought a lot about that," he said. "One, it's not about me. We had a kid in the hospital. We have to still consider that. The second thing is we should just go back to work. I will have served my penance. Hopefully, when I come back, we're 3-0 and we're just going to come back and go right back to work. Our coaches are running it exactly like we would run it, so it's not going to be a shock when I walk out there."

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