Jonathan Brown a junior who plays for Miami Coral Park High School took on the Florida High School Athletic Association after being accused of assaulting a referee during a football game in November.
The official, Charles Hepburn gave his report to the FHSAA. He claimed that Brown “walked right into me and forearm myself right [in] the chest.” Having no choice the punishment was severe, a lifetime ban from participating in high school sports. Fortunately a parent in the stands had video of the game and alleged confrontation.
With the evidence showing that a forearm to the chest never happened it seemed like Brown would have his ban overturned. That did not happen and Assistant Executive Director for Athletic Services Justin Harrison wrote to Brown and his mother Darnita saying “as mentioned in an earlier email, this is an egregious offense and per state statute could be processed as a felony if the official decided to pursue that route. “I only say all of this to relay the seriousness of the incident on our end for this incident.”
Video didn’t prove Hepburn’s account and for some reason it didn’t sway Harrison’s decision.
According to the FHSAA website Harrison’s role involves:
- Oversees Athletic Services department
- Supervisor of officials program
- Unsportsmanlike conduct of athletes and coaches
- Contractual disputes between member schools
- State series passes and administrator
- Appeals of fines and penalties assessed for violations of athletic regulations
Finally in April the case went up in front of an appeals board and the panel overturned Brown’s lifetime ban by a 4-1 vote. One member of the panel said “I just don’t see what he wrote up.” There was also a debate on “a desireto punish Jonathan for something – anything.”
Brown will again be able to play football. As for Hepburn and Harrison both deserve severe discipline for their actions.