Mayor suspends sports after coach punches referee
WEST PARK, Fla. (WSVN) -- The mayor of West Park has announced the temporary suspension of all sports activities, as the city investigates how a man with a lengthy arrest record became a youth football coach.
Mayor Eric Jones, Jr. suspended all sports activity until further notice Tuesday. He wants the city to investigate how the agency the city used for background checks decided this assistant coach was clean. "One incident in tens years, you got a whole program suspended," said Jones.
Dion Robinson, 43, was caught on camera hitting a referee during a game over the weekend. He posted his bond and walked out of jail Tuesday after police arrested him on Monday and charged him with battery on a sports official. The man has a criminal record, so many are trying to figure out how he managed to become a coach.
The Broward Sheriff's Office arrested Robinson late Monday afternoon. The incident was caught on camera during a game between the West Park Saints and Miramar Patriots in Broward, on Saturday. The video evidence was quickly uploaded to YouTube. Soon after, police went looking for Robinson.
Now, the Miami-Dade Extreme Youth Football League is considering kicking the West Park Saints out of the league in light of these new events and the players are not happy. "I don't like it because I love football. I can't believe they did this to us," said Kwame James.
Parents of the players are also upset with the outcome. "The kids didn't mess up, a grown coach did. So why are the kids paying?"
Referee Andrew Keigans told police the attack happened after he called an unsportsmanlike penalty against the Saints because Robinson, one of the team's the assistant coaches, made a derogatory comment from the sidelines.
"It's 8 - 6," said Keigans of the score. "West Park is losing to West Miramar, and then one of the assistant coaches yells, 'Oh, not only do we have to beat (expletive) Miramar, we gotta beat the (expletive) referees,' so I flagged him for unsportsmanlike conduct. He shouldn't be talking like that around the kids."
Other coaches from the Saints said the referee started it by aggressively moving another player out of his way. "He physically moved the 10-year-old out of his way," said Head Coach Antonio Lane. "That's what stemmed the situation."
"I turned around to report my foul," said Keigans, "And that's when I bumped into the little kid, and that's when I heard from the stands, 'He pushed the kid!' and that's when the whole mob scene started."
Tellas Robinson, another assistant coach for West Park, commented, "Emotions got the best of us, and that's what it was. Fathers first. That's what it is. We take care of our kids first."
Broward County Sheriff Al Lamberti said Robinson has a lengthy criminal history. "Was a background check ever done on Robinson? He's got aggravated assault, assault with a firearm and multiple arrests for distribution of cocaine, so that makes me concerned. Why is even around our kids?"
The league says it is up to each team to provide affidavits that they have checked the background of the coaches, and that they're clear.
Team games have been suspended by the city and the West Park Saints will no longer be able to play for the remainder of the season.
Parents and players, however, want a solution that will allow the West Park Saints to play. "Why should they punish the whole park and kids and make kids stay home and do nothing," said Leon McDonald, "when they can be at a park and be active and out of trouble?"
The league president said the decision to suspend the remainder of West Park Saints' games is final and cannot be repealed.
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