State association hands out fines, probation for schools’ altercation

Apr. 01, 2014 @ 07:38 PM

Two Tri-County high schools were fined and an adult facing misdemeanor charges will no longer be allowed to coach in Vance County Schools.

Following a public records request to Vance County Schools and Granville County Schools, The Dispatch has learned both Northern Vance and J.F. Webb high schools were each fined $1,000 by the N.C. High School Athletic Association. Letters were sent to respective principals on Jan. 14. The letters also outlined other penalties and directives.

Joseph Richardson, a 44-year-old who coached with Northern Vance last season, waived counsel at his March court appearance and is expected to represent himself when his case is heard in April in Vance County District Court. Richardson faces a charge of simple assault in connection to the Nov. 8 altercation following a varsity football game between Northern and Webb.

Richardson was seen on top of a Webb football player. According to the arrest warrant, probable cause was found that Richardson “unlawfully and willfully did assault and strike Zach Bailey by hitting the victim about the body with his hands and feet.”

Superintendent Ronald Gregory, in an email response, confirmed Richardson will no longer be coaching at Northern or be allowed to coach at any other county public school.

Richardson was arrested March 5 by the Vance County Sheriff’s Office.

Following the game, an altercation ensued. It included players and some level of involvement by adults. Pepper spray was used by sheriff’s deputies on several people to help restore order.

The Vance sheriff’s office reviewed reports from the scene, videotape and still images while conducting its four-month investigation.

Both schools reported the incident to the NCHSAA, their respective statewide governing body for athletics competition.

In early December, punishments to those involved from the teams was confirmed by Gregory for Vance County and by Stan Winborne, the public information officer for Granville County Schools. The January letters confirmed the punishments from the NCHSAA.

In addition to the fines, the NCHSAA has put each school on probation through the 2014 football season, required members of each coaching staff to complete the National Federal of High Schools Teaching and Modeling Behavior Course, and required some players to take the Star Sportsmanship program. Que Tucker, deputy commissioner for the NCHSAA, confirmed fine money goes into the association’s endowment.

In a December email to The Dispatch, Gregory wrote, “The entire coaching staff will be required to attend several meetings/trainings focused on sportsmanship, athletic program development, organizing and running effective practices, parent engagement and sensitivity training this year and through the entire 2014-2015 football season.

“The head coach will attend additional training throughout this year and next year.”

Punishments to the players were not disclosed in Gregory’s email.

Winborne only confirmed punishments were handed out and declined to specify.

The NCHSAA could have levied even stricter punishment. For fighting, players and coaches can be suspended for up to one calendar year, coaches can be fined and team playoff privileges can be revoked.

Both football teams were in their final regular season game. Northern’s losing streak was extended to 21 games, currently the longest in the state, and Webb broke a six-game losing streak with a 21-20 win.

The game included 27 penalties, 13 for personal fouls or unsportsmanlike conduct. Both totals are considered extremely high.

Six law enforcement officers, three each from the sheriff’s office and Henderson Police Department, were at the game.

Contact the writer at awooten@hendersondispatch.com.