|TSSAA penalizes Lenoir City soccer after ‘goalkeeper’
punched Farragut player
Chris Thomas of the Knoxville News Sentinel
A Lenoir City High School boys soccer player has been banned from playing any sport for the school through graduation for "striking a Farragut player with a closed fist" in the side of the head during a game played at Lenoir City on Tuesday.
The ban was among the penalties TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress approved in a letter emailed to Lenoir City principal Charles Orr on Friday. The News Sentinel obtained the letter from the TSSAA on Saturday.
The TSSAA letter referred to the player in question as "goalkeeper," who neither the TSSAA nor Lenoir City athletic director Greg Boling identified. The player has been banned from participating in any sport at Lenoir City for the remainder of his high school career for what the TSSAA letter later referred to as "punching" another player. He is not a senior and was not detained after the incident, Boling said.
It was not immediately clear on Saturday if the player could transfer to another school and continue playing sports.
Lenoir City's soccer program also was fined a total of $1,500, stripped from postseason play for this season and placed on one calendar year's probation in the wake of the altercation. It's the program's second incident involving unsportsmanlike conduct this month.
"I was at the game," Boling said. "It looked like to me there was some verbal exchange. But regardless what was said, what our goalkeeper did was uncalled for. He took off his goalie gloves and went after this Farragut player. I'm pleased that when some of our players saw how angry he was, they went to him and tried to stop him but couldn't. And he did what he did."
Farragut soccer coach Ray Dover said his player who was punched will be sidelined "a couple of weeks" while undergoing concussion protocol testing. Dover did not identify the player, but said "from my understanding" his player's family will not press charges.
"(Our player) was punched in the side of the head," Dover said. "(The goalie) came across his jaw and temple area. Our kid hit a penalty kick with about 15 minutes left and celebrated. He turned around, and as he was coming back, that's when things got out of hand. (The goalie) ran towards him and hit him while he wasn't looking."
Farragut expects to receive its letter from the TSSAA on Monday, athletic director Don Dodgen said. Dodgen said that no Farragut players left the bench during the incident, but two assistants did in an attempt to diffuse matters.
The TSSAA accepted the action taken by Lenoir City's administration to place the soccer team on restrictive probation for the 2015-16 school year, resulting in its removal from postseason play and a $1,000 fine. The program is ineligible to accept any awards recognizing their regular-season finish this year.
The TSSAA also accepted Lenoir City's decision to ban the goalkeeper from participating in athletics at Lenoir City for the remainder of his high school career, and suspend an additional three players who received red cards on Tuesday for the next three games. Lenoir City's calendar year of probation, which resulted in a $500 fine, ends April 25, 2017.
"We take full responsibility at Lenoir City High School for what happened," Boling said. "This is on nobody but us. This is something we all have to learn from, including myself, (boys soccer) coach (Santiago) Correa, and our soccer program. We will learn from this and get better."
Boling said one of the red cards was given to a Lenoir City player prior to the incident. He said neither the players in question nor the administration became aware of the other two red cards until receiving an ejection report from the TSSAA in the days following the game.
"As soon as the altercation with the goalkeeper took place, I came out onto the field and the official made the announcement that the game was being terminated," Boling said.
"The other two players ejected were not involved in any physical confrontation. I can't imagine it came before the incident, but we're not aware when exactly it transpired."
The incidents resulted in Lenoir City's second wave of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in the past 17 days. The program was fined $500 by the TSSAA after Correa prematurely removed his team from competition during an April 2 game against Sevier County.
"Mr. Correa thought the (Sevier County) game was getting way out of hand," Boling said. "There were a couple of really hard fouls that he didn't think were properly handled. He decided with not much time remaining on the clock to remove his team from the field. It went down as a forfeit."
According to the TSSAA letter, that incident forced Correa and Boling to meet with Gene Menees, TSSAA assistant executive director, at the state office in Hermitage to discuss future behavior. Lenoir City was allowed to continue competition with the understanding that additional unsportsmanlike incidents would prompt further TSSAA action. Boling said Lenoir City will play the remainder of its regular-season schedule, and lent support when asked about Correa's future as the Panthers' coach.
"Coach Correa's our soccer coach," Boling said. "And quite honestly, he's a very good soccer coach. It's unfortunate these things have taken place this year, but we're behind him."