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John Jay athlete who tackled ref will be allowed to play football again

SAN ANTONIO - A John Jay High School student who tackled a ref during a football game in September of 2015 will get another chance to play high school football.

The University Interscholastic League voted unanimously on Tuesday morning to allow Victor Rojas to participate in extracurricular activities for the 2017-2018 school year. He will remain on probation and one violation would be cause for automatic dismissal from the UIL program, said committee members during a 1-hour hearing in Austin.

Rojas appeared at the hearing and read a prepared statement which included an apology to the ref he tackled during the John Jay/Marble Falls game.

"I would like to apologize to Mr. Watts for what I did," started Rojas. "I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me for my actions and to know that I'm truly sorry for what I did."

At the time, Rojas and Moreno said they were told by an assistant coach to hit Robert Watts following allegations of racial slurs. The assistant coach, Mack Breed, later pleaded guilty to an assault charge. He was given 18 months probation and forced to surrender his teaching certificate.

Following Rojas' apology, UIL committee members grilled Rojas about his social media accounts, asking whether he posted anything after the incident that could have been misinterpreted. Rojas said he had not. He was also asked whether he ever tried to reach Watts in the time since the incident. He said the conditions of his probation did not allow any contact with Watts.

Watts was not at the hearing, but in previous hearings has adamantly denied the claims. An investigation by the Texas Association of Sports Officials also found no evidence of racial slurs. A representative for Watts testified on Tuesday that he suffered long-lasting medical problems following the incident, including concussion-like symptoms.

A Northside Independent School District official said he considered the incident a 'teachable moment' and would give Rojas a second chance, if the decision were his to make.

At the end of the hearing, UIL committee members voted to allow Rojas to play again. Some of Rojas' supporters, including his parents and coach, said they would make sure Rojas stays on course to make good choices as he moves forward into his senior year.

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