Independence Coach May Face Charges
Knotts suspended after altercation alleged at JV game
MELISSA MANWARE:Charlotte Observer
Matthews police will ask prosecutors whether they have enough evidence to charge Independence High football coach Tom Knotts with misdemeanor assault, Sgt. David Harrington said Friday afternoon.
Knotts, who has been suspended and did not coach Friday’s Southwestern 4A conference championship game against Butler, was involved in an altercation with the father of one of his junior varsity football players Thursday night.
Witnesses told the Observer that Knotts was talking to his team after their 15-14 loss when a parent began cursing and heckling the coach. The witnesses said Knotts left the huddle and began arguing with the man through a tall chain-link fence.
The coach then slammed the chain link fence into the manâ€™s face, according to a police incident report.
Witnesses said they saw the parent bleeding from the nose area. The report identifies him as 42-year-old Isaac Avant Jr., of Maple Glen, Pennsylvania.
Harrington said Avant sought medical attention for minor injuries. The Observer has been unable to reach him.
Knotts is suspended with pay pending the outcome an investigation. He cannot coach or teach and was also prohibited from attending Fridayâ€™s game at Memorial Stadium, said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools spokesperson Cynthia Robbins. School Law Enforcement is conducting an internal investigation, she said.
On Friday, Harrington said Matthews police would ask a magistrate to issue a warrant. But he now says the department has decided to first ask prosecutors whether they believe there is enough evidence to prosecute Knotts on a simple assault charge.
Harrington said the department usually consults with prosecutors before charging Charlotte-Mecklenburg school teachers because often a career is on the line. He doesnâ€™t expect prosecutors to make a decision before Monday, he said.
Butlerâ€™s JV team won Thursday night after scoring a touchdown and making a two-point conversion. Witnesses have said the parent was upset about Knottsâ€™ play-calling.
Knotts, reached at his home late Thursday, declined to comment. The Observer was unable to reach him Friday. And his lawyer, Joe Ledford, declined comment.
Assistant coach Bill Geiler assumes Knottsâ€™ duties until the conclusion of the investigation, said Independence athletics director Kelly Lewis.(>Matthews Butler defeated Independence 21-20 on Friday evening.)