WALNUT (CBSLA.com) — The Southern California Football Association Monday suspended a Ventura County community college football player for five years for punching a referee during a game.
Bernard Schirmer said it was an accident and is truly sorry.
“First of all, I’d like to apologize to the ref. It was unintentional. I had no thought in my head of harming the ref,” the 19-year-old offensive lineman said.
Video recorded by SoCal College Sports showed the line judge was knocked unconscious and falling to the ground as he tried to break up a fight on the field Saturday night.
Schirmer said he was in heated argument with a player from the other team.
“I talked to him yesterday. He’s a little sore from going down so hard but he said he had no headache or anything else,” Rich Kollen, director of football operations for the SCFA, said Monday.
Schirmer was immediately ejected from the game and arrested on suspicion of battery.
“My mom seeing me in handcuffs. My mom started crying. My heart dropped,” recalled Schirmer, who posted bail Sunday.
The offensive lineman said the video clearly showed what happened was accidental. He said he often tries to calm down by hitting himself on the helmet and he didn’t realize the line judge was so close.
“My friends were trying to pull me back away from the defensive end,” Schirmer said. “I didn’t know the ref was right inside of me, bear hugging me. When he fell down, I thought somebody else hit him.”
Mount San Antonio College officials said they reviewed the video, talked to witnesses and determined that Schirmer “unintentionally hit the referee.”
“Being able to sift through it frame by frame, I felt more and more confident. Hey, this looks like it wasn’t intentional. The young man was really just trying to get himself together again,” said Mt. SAC Athlete Director Joe Jennum.
School officials said they plan to appeal Schirmer’s suspension and will determine what sanctions, if any, are appropriate.
Police said the referee refused to press charges.
The Ventura County District Attorney’s Office will decide whether to charge Schirmer.