Dad assaults daughter’s basketball coach
Associated Press Writer
Vail, CO Colorado
OKLAHOMA CITY ” After a blowout win in the opening round of the state high school girls’ basketball tournament, Preston coach Mickey Duncan just wanted to return to his hotel room and watch tape of his next opponent.
Instead, he ended up in the emergency room and the father of one of his players ended up in jail, accused of assaulting the coach because his daughter had not started.
Duncan was left with a dislocated elbow, the latest in a string of violent outbursts in several states involving parents and youth coaches.
Duncan was in the gym lobby following Preston’s 76-46 win against Crowder on Thursday night when 42-year-old Jeffrey Abbott allegedly hit him. Duncan said Abbott threw him into a wall about 15 feet away, and the coach’s elbow hit the corner of a picture frame.
“I think I said to him, ‘What is wrong with you?’ He had me against the wall by the throat. … I was just shocked, more than anything,” Duncan said. The men were quickly pulled apart.
Richard Lapchick, the president and chief executive officer of the National Consortium for Academics and Sports, said the increasingly violent nature of sports themselves contributes to such behavior.
In Elmont, N.Y., last fall, a soccer mom was charged with hitting her daughter’s coach with a folding chair because he had given her bad directions to a game.
In Canton, Texas, police said a football coach was shot and critically wounded in 2005 by a father who thought his son was being treated unfairly.
And in Reading, Mass., a parent who was supervising his son’s hockey pickup game was beaten to death in 2000 by another parent who became upset at rough play.
“It’s kind of unleashing something inside of people that can be frightening. … Parents think so much is at stake, because they’re living vicariously through their child,” said Lapchick, also chairman of the DeVos Sports Business Management Program at the University of Central Florida.
Preston, about 30 miles south of Tulsa, is a town with one gas station and no stop light. Preston High School has 137 students. Mark Hudson, the Preston superintendent, called what happened a “nightmare.”
“It was a horrible thing, but our kids handled it with such class. … I tell everyone our school is a utopia. We just don’t have that sort of thing happen,” he said. “It’s an isolated case and a one-time incident.”
Abbott was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor count of assault and battery. He was released from the city jail Friday after posting a $674 bond. Abbott has an April 17 hearing and if convicted could serve up to 60 days in jail. He did not return a message left by The Associated Press.
Midwest City Police Chief Brandon Clabes said it’s routine for his police to work security for state-tournament games. He said problems usually are limited to an occasional scuffle in the stands or unruly fans upset with game officials.
“You never think a parent of a team member would assault the coach,” Clabes said.
Duncan was taken to an Oklahoma City hospital, where he said he was “just rocking in pain.” Doctors reset his elbow, but it was 4:30 a.m. Friday before he returned to his hotel room. The painkiller kept him from sleeping much.
“My girls were scared to death,” Duncan said. “All they did was just cry.”
Exhausted and emotionally shaken, Duncan coached Preston that afternoon against Fort Cobb-Broxton. His team lost 66-57, ending the season at 28-2.
Hudson said he’s spoken with Abbott’s wife twice since, but not to Abbott himself. Hudson has banned Abbott from Preston school activities for six months, noting that Abbott’s daughter was “embarrassed and humiliated by what her father did.”
Hudson said Abbott might apologize, but “nothing can take away from what he did to our coach and our team. … A lot of people will remember that Preston won a state-tournament game by 30 points and a parent tried to choke a coach.”
Duncan plans to attend Abbott’s hearing and isn’t sure he’d accept an apology.
“He’s out of jail around midnight and I’m in the emergency room until 3:30 in the morning. I don’t know what an apology does,” he said.
But Duncan doesn’t want a stain on the reputation of a school that’s won five state titles in girls’ basketball and four more crowns in boys’ basketball.
“Preston is a classy place and this is not representative of what it’s like here,” he said. “We really do have the best of everything.”