Lakeland dad punches ref, football season cancelled
LAKELAND (FOX 13) - Nearly a week after deputies arrested a youth football coach for punching a referee, the league's board voted to suspend the team - made up of boys and girls ranging in age from four to 14 - effectively ending their season.
Saturday, during a game between the Lakeland Destroyers and the Central Florida Athletic Association Mustangs in Kissimmee, Leo Davis, 36, attacked a referee over a "series of bad calls" according to the Osceola County Sheriff's Office.
He was charged with battery.
"He's no longer with our organization. He can't come to any of our functions anymore," Destroyers Team President Marquese White said.
Thursday night, The Florida Elite Police Action League board - made up of individual team presidents - voted 14-4 to suspend the entire Destroyers program for the rest of the season.
The team will no longer be allowed to compete in league games.
"To take that away from [the kids], who had nothing to do with what happened that day with that parent, it's crazy," White said. "It was a choice that [Davis] made. He has to be punished for that choice. Not the organization. Not the kids."
Friday, FOX 13 called and texted league president Bryan Reed several times and never heard back.
Several other coaches that voted in favor of suspending the team had no comment or said it was a complicated personal decision.
Johnny Saunders, president of Eustis Jr. Panthers, said the board is not in the business to punish kids and never was it their intent to discipline the young cheerleaders or football players.
"Nobody based this decision on the kids," He said. "Leadership has failed them, and [that coach] made a decision that violated everything we stand for."
Parents are still furious, and White said this could end up in court.