Two Texas high-school football players suspended for tackling a referee during a game last Friday claim the ref was using racial slurs against them, the New York Times reports. A school district spokesperson announced students' claims—which also include that their assistant coach told them to go after the ref for "cheating" them—yesterday. NBC News reports referee Robert Watts was watching a play when one player from San Antonio's John Jay High School knocked him over from behind and another player dove into him.
Both players were suspended from the team and school and could face misdemeanor assault charges. "Assaulting a game official is a heinous crime," Watts' lawyer tells NBC. He denies his client, who's been refereeing for 14 years and was filling in for another ref that night, used any racial slurs, the Times reports. Both students will remain suspended while an investigation continues, and their assistant coach is currently on paid leave, according to NBC. The Times reports two other John Jay players were ejected from the same game for throwing punches at opposing players. (Read more high school football stories.)