HomeSportsTexas Football Player Who Attacked Referee Banned From All High School Sports

Texas Football Player Who Attacked Referee Banned From All High School Sports

by Suzanne Halliburton
Rick Stewart/Allsport

Emmanuel Duron, the high school football star who tackled a referee, will not be allowed to play any sport for the rest of the year.

Duron’s high school athletic career, effectively, is over. He’s a senior at Edinburg High School in south Texas. Besides football, Duron was a highly touted wrestler and a favorite to reach the state championship. That season competes next spring.

But the University Interscholastic League, which governs high school sports in Texas, ended Duron’s career, Monday.

Duron apologized for his angry tackle of an official of Fred Gracia, who’d just ejected him from the game. Gracia flagged Duron twice for one play in the second quarter of a game played Dec. 3. First, Gracia flagged Duron for roughing the passer. Then, Gracia flagged Duron for an unsportsmanlike penalty. Gracia said Duron said something to him in Spanish.

Then after Duron left the field, he ran back and tackled Gracia. Police escorted Duron from the stadium. Gracia, 58, suffered a shoulder injury. Doctors also treated him for symptoms of a concussion.

Video of Emmanuel Duron Incident Went Viral, Made National News

Video of the incident quickly went viral on social media. The national media picked it up, placing a harsh spotlight on the town near the Texas-Mexico border.

Police determined the tackle wasn’t just an example of poor sportsmanship. A day later, police arrested Duron and charged him with assault causing bodily injury. It’s a misdemeanor charge.

The McAllen Monitor reported that UIL’s vote to suspend was unanimous. The UIL came down hard on others besides Duron. The UIL placed football coach J.J. Leija on a year’s probation. The high school athletic programs will be on probation through the 2022-23 school year.

The UIL said it would increase the penalties if there are other violations.

The football team already had to vacate its playoff win. The Edinburg school district officials made that decision last week.

In a statement to the media, Edinburg interim superintendent Gilbert Garza said:

“We as a district understand that it is a very unfortunate incident for the team, as the students and coaching staff worked very hard throughout the year for this season. But it is important that our district abides by the rules and regulations set forth by the UIL.

“Our district’s leadership agrees with the committee also that such incidents are not acceptable and will not be tolerated. Moving forward, our district is committed to developing and implementing a plan of action to proactively deter any future misconduct by any future student-athlete.”

“Could we have done better in the way we handled the incident? Yes, we could have,” he added. “We have learned from this teachable moment and we will make every effort in the future to make sure an incident like such will not occur again.”

Duron, a lineman, also was the team’s punter and kicker.