When the secret service says that you can't threaten the president, it means business. If there was ever any question of just how serious it is about that charge, consider the case of assistant high school wrestling coach Jacob Volkmann.
Volkmann, who happens to be better known for his exploits as a UFC fighter, was put on extended paid administrative leave from his position at White Bear Lake (Minn.) High for statements he made on camera after a UFC event. While it's unknown how long that paid leave will last, it's entirely possible -- perhaps even probable -- that it will extend for the remainder of White Bear Lake's wrestling season. You can see the statements for which Volkmann has been investigated in full below.
When asked who Volkmann wanted to fight in his next bout, he flippantly replied, "Actually, Obama. He's not too bright.... like the make a home affordable plan and his health care plan, someone needs to knock some sense into that idiot." Volkmann faced an inquiry from the Secret Service, but the issues surrounding his comments didn't stop there. Because the fighter was wearing clothing adorned with White Bear Lake wrestling logos, parents of the school began calling and writing in, asking about his role with the school and whether he would be allowed to continue.
On Thursday, Volkmann responded to questions about his suitability to serve as a high school wrestling coach to Kyle Shirley, an MMA judge who runs an MMA blog for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
"I don't feel like I was representing the school in a bad way," Volkmann said. "I'm not just being an anti-Obama person. It is just these two polices is what I'm talking about."
As far as his original comments, it appeared to Volkmann that what the school was most upset about wasn't his comments about wanting to fight the President. "Their main complaint was that I said he was an idiot, which was probably a bad word to use."
Volkmann added he doesn't regret commenting on Obama's policies. "The only thing I regret saying is saying that he's an idiot, that is a bad choice of word," Volkmann said. "I have a chance to make a difference with something that is affecting my life, why not?"
While the backlash from Volkmann's comments may have made his future as a coach in question, even while plenty have questioned the judgement of the school, he said he's confident it will actually help his fighting career.
"It is good for me, the UFC likes it," Volkmann told the Star-Tribune. "I'm going to have people against me, but I'm going to have supporters too." Volkmann's manager Monte Cox confirmed that he had been in contact with UFC's top matchmaker, Joe Silva, who said that the organization had no problem with Volkmann's comments.
UFC may not, but the U.S. government certainly did, which has left Volkmann in more hot water with both his local employers and the federal government than he'd ever considered possible. More concerning for Volkmann's long-term future, however, is how his employers weigh his responsibility for his comments. While it's clear that the fighter wasn't actually serious about his desire to fight a sitting president, the current climate surrounding any political speech that may incite violence probably doesn't help his case.