• A player from Waco University holds down Burleson’s Jagger Johns during a game on Sept. 13. The photo is from a screen shot of video taken during the game.

District Executive Committee rules on football incident

Incidents during Burleson’s freshman football game with Waco University Sept. 13 have drawn state and nationwide attention.

Monday, the District 5-5A Executive Committee examined the situation and voted 6-1 to accept the action plan put forward by the Waco ISD regarding disciplining the player from University who was ejected from the game for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Several videos show University players apparently targeting Burleson’s Jagger Johns during the game.

In one video, a Unversity player tackled Johns then appears to hit and choke Johns while he is on the ground. Johns' head is also repeatedly banged on the turf during the incident. Johns suffered a concussion and has not yet been cleared to play.

Coaches from both schools went on the field to break up the altercation but the University player was already walking off the field.

The University player was ejected from the game and missed the first half of the team’s next game. That is the UIL’s minimum penalty following an ejection.

Burleson ISD executive director of communications Mikala Hill sid in a statement regarding the incident in the game: “We are shocked that this incident happened to one of our players. As it unfolded, everyone observing was momentarily stunned. Our coaches quickly ran onto the field to intervene on behalf of our player. The BHS athletic coordinator and the BISD athletic director both protested the incident with Waco ISD officials. Waco ISD assured our administrators that it would address this matter appropriately.”

In another video, the same player from University appears to wrap up Johns then, after he let’s go, another University player pushes Johns to the ground.

In a third video, another University player blindsides Johns on the back end of a play.

Waco ISD Superintendent Marcus Nelson told the District Executive Committee Monday that he wanted to clearly communicate how disappointed and embarrassed his school district was for the poor judgment of the student-athlete in the game.

“On behalf of our board of trustees I just want to begin by emphatically stating that we do not condone the behavior that occurred during this game,” Nelson said. “I personally have spoken with (Burleson ISD Superintendent Dr. Bret Jimerson). My intent in reaching out to him was to contact the mother. We want to be clear that we share the frustration of seeing her precious child injured on behalf of the poor judgment of our student athlete. We are disappointed in the poor judgment of our student-athlete.”

Nelson said that he didn’t feel that missing the first half of the next game was punishment enough for the University player.

“Between those games, there were additional consequences that were also imposed by our coaches,” Nelson said. “It involved physical punishments, extra running and several other activities that I’m hesitant to document more clearly because I believe our student at least has some right to a confidentially. As soon as I became aware of the incident I suspended the student-athlete from all extra-curricular activities until all further notice.”

Nelson said that the University player will not play until Johns is able to play again and even after then the University player may not play if he doesn’t do several steps that the district has outlined for him to earn the right to participate in extra-curricular activities.

“We care about all kids not just our kids,” Nelson said. “We are deeply concerned and irritated that one of our staff members had the gall to say that we don’t care about other people’s kids. That’s simply not true. He’s lucky to be sitting up there right now. He feels like his quote was taken out of context. We are concerned about the concussion and that is one of the reasons our kid won’t be playing. There is no place in the game of football for what our student-athlete did.”

Nelson added that all of the University coaches and administrators associated with the freshman football team have received reprimands and documentation reiterating what the expectations are for both students and staff in the Waco ISD.

“We pray for a speedy recovery for the young man that was injured because of the poor performance of our kids,” Nelson said.

Burleson ISD athletic director Phil Anderson, who cast the one dissenting vote, on behalf of Centennial High School (Burleson and Waco University as involved parties were not allowed votes) said: “We want to make sure we protect our kids.”

The mother can submit a written appeal to the State Executive Committee and they will reply to her regarding her appeal.

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