It appears that the Texas high-school football players involved in a vicious hit on a defenseless game official told the truth, at least in part. The assistant coach fingered by the two players actually admitted his role in directing players to attack the referee almost immediately afterward to the head coach, and then the next day to the principal. So why keep it quiet as the story exploded?

An assistant coach at John Jay High School in San Antonio told his school principal that he ordered his players to hit a referee in a Sept. 4 game out of anger that the official used racist language, according to evidence obtained by Outside the Lines.

In a signed statement detailing his interactions with the head coach after the game, John Jay High School principal Robert Harris says the team’s secondary coach, Mack Breed, admitted he “directed the students to make the referee pay for his racial comments and calls.” …

After reaching the school, Harris wrote, Gutierrez eventually met face-to-face with Harris in Harris’ car in the school parking lot.

“He then informed me that Coach Breed had disclosed to him [Gutierrez] that he directed the players to take out the referee,” Harris wrote. “[Gutierrez] stated that Coach Breed initially asked him what was going to happen to the players during their ride home from the game. After Coach Gutierrez informed him that the players would be removed from the team, he informed Coach Gutierrez that he directed the players to strike the referee.”

That meeting, in the early-morning hours of Sept. 5, was followed by another meeting in Harris’ office, at 6 p.m. that same day.

“I later met with Coach Breed at John Jay High School … in my office in the presence of Coach Gutierrez,” Harris wrote. “Coach Breed told me that he directed the students to make the referee pay for his racial comments and calls. He wanted to take full responsibility for his actions. Mr. Breed at one point during our conversation stated that he should have handled the referee himself.”

It’s interesting in an odd way that Breed stepped up so quickly to admit his role in the attack to his coach and principal. He’s been conspicuously silent about it ever since the story went viral, though. Perhaps Breed got some legal advice between September 5th and when the national news media picked up the story, but if so, it may have come a little late. He’s now created two witnesses apart from the players to an admission that will make it difficult to come up with a less-incriminating story.

If the referee plans to pursue criminal charges, these statements make Breed the natural target for prosecutors. That might be good news for Moreno and Rojas, who can then cut deals to testify against Breed. It also is good news for Robert Watts, the victim of the attack, as it makes the school even more liable for the actions of a paid employee, assuming – and it’s all but certain, right? – that Watts wants to sue for damages.

Note though that all involved still insist that Watts used racial epithets during the game, using that as a rationalization for the attack. Watts, through his attorney, strongly denies that accusation. Even if it were true, though, what difference does it make? It’s almost a non-sequitur in the context of an attack on a game official, especially one who got blindsided. It wouldn’t be a defense on a late hit on a player, let alone a cheap shot on a non-participant. Perhaps the allegation is true, but the continued insistence on it as a justification looks a lot like PR for a potential jury pool. In Texas, especially with their attachment to high-school football, expect that to be a long shot for success.