Coach backs out of court agreement, makes pink cleats player sit

Cameron Smith

Last week was a crazy one for Mendenhall (Miss.) High kicker Coy Sheppard. First, the senior filed a lawsuit against the Simpson County School District after his football coach, Chris Peterson, kicked him off the football team for wearing pink cleats. Then, just in time for Mendenhall's second-round state-playoff game, Sheppard was reinstated, leading to a glad-handing press conference on Friday where he withdrew his lawsuit.

Yet it turns out what seemed like a tidy conclusion to a sordid suspension was just another turn. According to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, Peterson refused to let Sheppard "dress out" with the rest of the Mendenhall High team, which kept him from playing in the game Friday night as the kicker claims he was promised. As a result, Sheppard's lawyer, Oliver Diaz -- a former Mississippi state Supreme Court justice -- is now moving forward with Sheppard's suit against the school district and Peterson.

According to, Diaz is seeking damages for, "humiliation Sheppard suffered after he was promised he could return."

"Coy was devastated," Diaz told the Clarion-Ledger. "[Sheppard] was fully expecting to join his team as a full participant. And when he was not allowed to do so, he was crushed. ...

"[Not allowing Sheppard to participate was a] bad faith breach of the settlement agreement. So not only is this coach making bad decisions, he is also costing the taxpayers of Simpson County a good amount in legal damages."

The Friday night snub was made all the more galling by the fact that Peterson had openly hugged Sheppard when a resolution to the case was announced just hours earlier. The official end of the first case saw Sheppard voluntarily agree not to wear pink again, even though he told the Clarion-Ledger just a day earlier that he would happily wear an all-pink uniform if it would help raise awareness of breast cancer.

Clearly, Sheppard's sacrifice of the symbolic statement he was dedicated to making was the only one that still stood by the end of Friday night's second-round playoff game.

"This whole situation didn't have to happen," Diaz told the Clarion-Ledger. "[The Sheppard case] is another example of a school district in Mississippi acting in bad faith even after they've entered into a voluntary settlement."

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