“The idea that these coaches fed young people to pork against their religion has proven to be quite ridiculous.”
Canton, Ohio — Less than a week after McKinley was fired from Canton McKinley’s football head coach, Marcus Watley was in front of the camera at a press conference on Tuesday.
Watley has been joined by former assistant coach Tyler Thatcher and lawyer Peter Patakos to withdraw the accusations that led to his dismissal last week.
Wattley and six assistant coaches were initially on leave after being accused of feeding students Peparoni Pizza on May 24, after the students appeared late for non-compulsory practice. It was the reason for the Hebrew Israelite faith, and eating pork violated his religious customs.
“The idea that these coaches made young people eat pork against his religion has proven to be quite ridiculous. It’s completely wrong, completely reckless, and completely untrue.” Shouted Patakos, adding that the player was given chicken fingers.
A district investigation revealed that the accusations against the coach were true, and director Jeff Talbert described their actions as “inappropriate, degrading, and disagreeable.” A group of coaches convened a special board that resulted in the loss of their jobs.
On Monday, the Canton City School District Board of Education held a disciplinary hearing. This was done as part of the due process outlined in the teacher section of Watley’s contract.
Watley tearfully denied the allegations presented at the hearing, but his lawyer argued.
“We wanted to know what the district’s evidence was for the barbaric, false, reckless, and false allegations against Marcus Watley and his coaching staff,” Patakos said. “We have claimed the right to due process. What is your evidence?”
At the hearing on Monday, a surveillance video of the incident was shown. But if there is no sound, Patakos says he hasn’t proved anything.
“I know what’s going on with that surveillance video,” he said. “There’s no audio for that video. If so, we’re not here today. They would have heard Whattley say,’You’re always free to go out.’”
Talbert said it was the surveillance video that provided the information needed to encourage the director to be dismissed. “What happened on May 24 shows that it is a rude attempt to instill accountability and discipline in our students,” Talbert said at a board meeting last Thursday.
Wattley is a 39-year-old husband and father of four children. He has been with Canton-McKinley for three years and is still considered an academic liaison with the school.
“It was really hard. I’ve been a coach for a long time. It’s become a daily routine for my family,” Watley told reporters. “My kids, they like to come to practice and see coaches and players.”
Patakos believes the school board has overreacted, but there is still time to return Watley to McKinley’s bystander.
“The community had it. If it wants, it still has it. I can’t imagine why it doesn’t. Bring Marcus Watley back as head coach,” he said.
Future hearings on this matter will depend on the district’s accreditation obtained at the hearing on Monday.
3News Tyler Carey and Rachel Polansky contributed to this report.
Dismissed McKinley HC lawyer seeks reinstatement
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