Neil Barnes, an assistant football coach at Bayfield Middle School and the high school’s head wrestling coach, has resigned.
The Bayfield Marshal’s Office earlier this month investigated reports that Barnes allegedly struck his son at a BMS football game on Aug. 31.
“There’s a gray area with this one,” Marshal Joe McIntyre said of the incident.
The investigation determined there was an argument between Barnes and his son after his son argued with another player at football practice. The father had both hands on his son’s shoulders and was talking with him.
“It was probably a heated discussion,” McInytre said, and Barnes allegedly struck his son’s cheek with his left hand. The son, who was not injured, was interviewed after the incident.
Because of inconsistent witness statements from the other players, McIntyre said his staff did not arrest Barnes. McIntyre has referred the case to the district attorney.
“They will decide to prosecute or not,” he said.
The Bayfield School Board accepted Barnes’ resignation without comment on Sept. 13.
Barnes was rehired as BHS head wrestling coach on June 14 after taking over the position last year.
The district attorney’s office is reviewing the investigation to decide if charges will be filed, said Stephanie Colford, an administrative assistant at the office.
When asked to comment about the incident, Barnes on Tuesday emailed this statement:
“On Wednesday, August 31, 2016, I had completed my coaching duties following a Bayfield Middle School football game. While standing outside of the school, waiting for my son who is a member of the 8th grade football team, one of his teammates approached me and told me that my son had just hit him with his helmet. I then headed inside to question my son. When I approached him, I placed one hand on each shoulder and asked if he had hit the other boy. He looked me square in the eyes and answered yes, he had hit his teammate with the helmet. As his parent, I then took my left hand directly from his shoulder and popped him in the jaw with the side of my hand and asked him what the heck he was thinking he could have seriously hurt the other kid. I then made him apologize to his teammate and sent him to the car.
“I know that my actions that day were not appropriate, but I was reacting as a father and not a coach. I have coached for 18 years, nine of them in Bayfield and never once have there been any kind of accusations or questions regarding my treatment of any of the athletes I have interacted with. In talking with the High School Athletic Director, I was informed that I would be recommended for dismissal. After having numerous parents of current and former athletes come to me to express their support and volunteer to speak out on my behalf, I seriously considered my options. But at the end of all of this, I felt that I needed to put my wife and four children above my own dreams and decided to resign in the hopes that none of them would have to deal with any ridicule at school or in the community. I have apologized to the Bayfield School District and the Bayfield School Board, along with my family, and anyone who has supported me along the way. Please know that I have thoroughly loved coaching all of the athletes who I have come in contact with over the years and hope that maybe I made a difference in some young person’s life.”