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Laguna-Acoma coach placed on leave; might face charges, civil lawsuit

February 26, 1997

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ Sportsmanship, battered during the New Mexico high school football season, has received another black eye with a locker-room fight between a prep basketball coach and two referees.

A police report says Laguna-Acoma boys head coach George Marquez, 40, was involved in an altercation with referees Jose Jacquez and Elias Coriz following a 60-45 loss at Santa Fe’s St. Catherine High School on Friday night. The incident occurred in the officials’ locker room.

Marquez has been placed on administrative leave and may face a criminal misdemeanor charge or battery.

Jacquez, who said he was considering filing a civil lawsuit against Marquez, said the coach burst into the locker room after the game, yelled obscenities at the two officials, and a scuffle erupted.

``First, he spit on me, then he pushed me,″ Jacquez told the Albuquerque Journal on Monday. ``Then he pushed Elias. When we both grabbed him, he started swinging. He had a bloody nose where we pushed him against the wall.″

Jacquez said he and Coriz subdued Marquez and held him until police arrived.

``Mr. Marquez had injuries to both sides of his face, minor abrasions and swelling on both sides of his face,″ said a report by Santa Fe police officer Steve Altonji, who investigated the incident.

According to police records, Marquez, Jacquez and Coriz each filed criminal complaints. Marquez alleges he was struck by the two referees and Jacquez and Coriz contend Marquez hit them.

Santa Fe police Capt. David Segura said the trio will appear before a municipal judge. No date has been set.

According to Altonji’s report, Marquez admitted pushing Jacquez and calling him a name. Marquez also told police Coriz punched him on the side of the head, and both officials pounced on him.

Marquez declined comment Tuesday.

``I’ve talked to a lawyer and he’s advised me not to say anything,″ Marquez said.

Coriz also declined comment when contacted Tuesday by The Associated Press. He referred questions to the New Mexico Activities Association, the state governing body for high school sports.

Laguna-Acoma athletic director Dan MacEachen said he met with Marquez on Saturday and the coach was placed on indefinite leave pending an investigation by the school. Assistant coach Ken Kostedt has taken over the team, MacEachen said. The Hawks’ record was 7-14 heading into district tournament play this week.

Turmoil and violence have been rampant in New Mexico high school sports in recent months.

In October, Albuquerque St. Pius High School football player Mike Cito was expelled for wearing a razor-sharp helmet buckle that cut several opposing players. Cito was banned from athletic competition for a year by the NMAA.

Cito’s father, a dentist who admitted sharpening the buckle, was sentenced to two days in jail and 400 hours’ community service.

In November, Gilbert Jefferson, an 18-year-old Wingate High School senior, slammed into a referee from behind after being ejected from a football game for unsportsmanlike conduct. He was charged with aggravated battery on a school employee, expelled from school and banned from competition for the rest of his high school career. Jefferson’s trial is scheduled for April.

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