Baseball players at Plano East (Texas) Senior High School engaged in an annual “fight club” in batting cages while their coaches were on a retreat, according to the results of a school district-led investigation shared with the Dallas Morning News.
Parents first alerted district officials to the rumored fight club in May and June, the paper reported, which led to an investigation of head coach Travis Collins and assistant coach Reagan Allen. The district placed both coaches on paid administrative leave in August.
Collins and Allen both denied knowledge of the annual fight club, according to the paper, but the investigation determined that they should have known about it. “The fight club was promoted on social media,” per the paper, “and players returned to classrooms with bruised knuckles and black eyes.”
“During the fights, usually organized by the seniors each year, all players are pit against one another in fights with the little protection given by cheap boxing gloves,” one student said during the investigation. “There was no backing out of the fight for fear of shame and humiliation by the others.”
The investigation also determined that the two coaches used “racist and other derogatory terms around players,” a claim which Collins denied.
In addition, the district determined that Collins failed to follow concussion protocol after he allowed an injured player to return to play without medical clearance, and he “ignored injured players and at times belittled them and called them selfish because they could not contribute to the team,” according to the paper.
“It was as if it was just a game to the coaches to see who could dish out the funniest nickname or phrase to ridicule the hurt player,” one student told investigators.
Jake Arrieta, the 2015 National League Cy Young winner, is among the coaches’ former players.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.