The head coach of a Southern California football team has been placed on administrative leave after he was involved with a physical altercation with a student. While the punishment might seem to fit that crime, the circumstances around the suspension of Pasadena (Calif.) John Muir High coach Ken Howard make the decision much more questionable: He was trying to protect other students by facing off with the individual in question.
According to the Pasadena Star-News, Howard -- who you can see speaking about the 2011 season (but not the incident in question) below -- and other school personnel were searching the school for a student who was allegedly in possession of a deadly weapon. When Howard came across the student, he asked him about a weapon and, when the student resisted, physically detained him.
"The kid was resisting," Howard told the Star-News. "I told him to sit in his seat and it got physical. I wrapped the kid up and escorted him from the classroom."
Exactly how Howard handled the student seems to be the main issue in question. A Pasadena community activist named Randy Ertll told the Star-News that the student was both choked and slammed on to a desk, leaving bruising on his back and blood on his neck.
While school district officials have questioned Howard's involvement in any search for a weapon, the coach insists that the search was authorized by a Muir administrator, who gathered Howard and two security guards to search the school. After the student was detained, Pasadena police were called to the scene but did not make an official arrest. Howard claims that the responding officers praised him for handling the situation.
Now, the coach is sitting at home on paid administrative leave, away from the team he has led for the past seven seasons with his assistants and players forced to adjust to life without him.
"We want him back," Muir senior wide receiver Kevon Seymour told the Star-News. "It was shocking when we found out that he would be gone (on leave). I would love to have him back. The whole team would love to have him back."
As for Howard, it is clear he still feels that he made the right choice in restraining the unnamed student in question.
"The bottom line is that I kept myself and other kids on campus safe," Howard said. "I even kept (the student) safe. If he had been out in the community with that weapon he could have been seriously injured in some other way."