The Georgia High School Association and officials at Lee County and Colquitt County schools are trying to determine what led to an altercation between a Colquitt County assistant coach and members of the sideline chain crew during Friday night’s game.
“We have not seen the video or any recordings until just recently so it’s an ongoing investigation on our part,” Gary Phillips, the executive director of the GHSA, told USA TODAY High School Sports on Monday. “There’s not a specific policy if you will about this so we have to make a determination as to what policies and procedures apply.”
Colquitt County (Moultrie, Ga.) assistant coach Shawn Sutton was ejected from the game and escorted off the field by police deputies. The chain gang members were replaced in midgame with other volunteers.
The game was delayed for about 15 minutes while the issues were sorted out, but the contest finished without incident — a 54-17 victory. Sutton left on the team bus with the team after the game.
Leesburg Police took statements from the chain gang and the coach after the incidents. Leesburg Police told USA TODAY High School Sports on Monday that they could not comment because of the ongoing investigation and referred questions to Lee County schools.
Lee County schools athletic director Rob Williams said the school was still trying to sort out what happened and why. He said once the information is gathered, the school would decide whether further action is warranted.
“It was a very unfortunate incident. I think all parties probably regret that it happened,” Williams said.
A message left at the Colquitt County schools Monday was not returned.
Williams said the members of the chain gang are volunteers and not school employees and this group has worked Lee games for six or seven years without incident or complaints.
“I know in speaking with our people, hindsight is always much better in that they could have handled things better,” Williams said. “I’m sure everybody involved feels the same way once you calm down.”
Because the incident happened on the Colquitt sideline, Williams said he was on the other side of the field. He said he did not know what led to the altercation but speculated that the number of people in a tight area and pace and intensity of the game could have been factors.
“Both teams play very fast and so the chain crews have to move really fast,” he said. “High school sidelines are not the collegiate ranks where you have an awful lot of room. You bump one another. The coach is trying to work, the chain crews are trying to work through. They are trying to move. … This whole situation is just very out of character.”
Williams said he wanted to make it clear there are no ill feelings between the two schools or football programs.
“Our kids and the Colquitt County kids, there was no problem there whatsoever,” he said. “The game finished as it should. Everyone shook hands and wished each other well for the rest of the season as they should. There is no animosity between Colquitt County football and Lee County football.”