Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Here's what should happen to Tom Knotts

I never really thought the Mecklenburg County District Attorney was going to bring charges against Tom Knotts.

The case was too muddied. The parent whom Knotts was involved in all this with, Isaac Richardson Avant of Philadelphia, also played a big role. I don't see how one could face anything and not the other.

And now without criminal charges, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools should reinstate Knotts immediately.

Knotts handled the situation poorly, very poorly. He should not have approached the fan at the fence. That is clear. What is also clear is that fans are out of control these days with the liberties they feel entitled to: throwing things at coaches and players, cursing and spitting. I've seen some ugly scenes, particularly at basketball games where there is absolutely no separation.

I'm surprised we haven't had more instances where coaches got tired of it and approached an irate parent. Knotts didn't hit this man. If he did, this would all be a different matter.

Apparently, he pushed a fence into the man's face after the man pushed the fence towards him. I'm not sure if that is truly what happened. Having spoken to multiple parties and gotten multiple stories, I don't think we'll ever really know.

I think if both men pushed, they meant to do it as a means of intimidation, not to truly make any contact. And this pushing came after witnesses told me that the man's son pleaded with his father to stop yelling at the coach.

Given these circumstances, Knotts' penalty should be what a player would get for fighting or taunting: two games.

He missed last week's game against Butler and should miss this week's game against Greensboro Page. He should be allowed to return to campus Thursday and attend practice Thursday night. He should not be allowed to be on the sidelines for Friday's game.

If I were Knotts' lawyer or his agent, I'd tell him to make a very public statement, lamenting his lack of judgement, apologize for his role in this incident and promise it will not happen again.

After that, we should move on.

Hopefully Knotts will have learned an important lesson; hopefully CMS will increase security around coaches and prevent these kinds of skirmishes from ever starting; and hopefully and parents will think more about the consequences of their actions, especially to their own kids.

-----------------------------------------------------
Langston Wertz Jr.
lwertz@charlotteobserver.com

36 comments:

Joyce Adams said...

Langston, I'm very proud of your stance here. Very common sense. CMS should read this and follow it to the letter.

Anonymous said...

If this was Joe citizen, he would be in jail and there would be charges. A school official has no right in punching or pushing a kid or parent. CMS will be lucky if the parent does not sue, even though he may have started it. Shame on Knotts for his behavior, it is unacceptable. CMS should suspend him for the season and deliver a message to all CMS staff.

Anonymous said...

As a Butler fan Langston, I have to say I agree with you here.

Justin said...

Langston, I really think that you have a great point here. My younger brother plays for Independence and TK has helped my brother be the man that he is today. If it weren't for him, I don't know what half these kids would do with there time. I agree that he should not be treated any different than any other coach or teacher, but I also believe that CMS loves to drag things out. We all know that CMS delayed their investigation because they did not want anyone voting against the school bonds based against their decision. Well, you got your bonds and we all voted for it, so what's the hold up? I think Peter Gorman has done some good things with the hand he has been dealt, but he needs to take the time to face this issue, and in a timely manner. Thanks for the great letter though. I have friends that played for Butler, and even they agree that this situation has gotten out of hand.

Anonymous said...

I think Knotts should be allowed to coach. He was provoked and the parent was wrong. That he wants to sue Knotts is funny.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's good business for Langston Wertz to always see the world through Tom Knotts and Independence's eyes. (Or whichever Charlotte team is dominant in a few years). I mean it always makes me click on the story or read it in the observer. But, after reading and watching interviews that attempt to cast Knotts in the best possible light. I still get the clear impression this guy is a megalomanical jerk who has built a "technically" clean program.

Matt- Charlotte said...

Sooooo, Basically we are running a system of guilty until proven innocent. I really thought the NFL made some dumb decisions, but atleast they allow coaches and players to continue their jobs during the investigations, then punish them if there is a negative outcome. Of course that is all about money, but what isn't in life. And why are all these Butler fans and parents crying about TK being arrested? You would think that they would be the ones to want coach Knox back in the saddle, so that they can legitimately beat Independence at full coaching and playing force.

Darcy Mears said...

In response to Matt; I think that you are right. If we are going to suspend Tom Knox for an investigation, shouldn't CMS suspend all school activities to investigate there security and faculty management to see why any situation could get this far? Hard to live by a double standard isn't it Peter Gorman?

Reece said...

I think you should also add a punishment for the other adult involved-ban him from any games until he completes an anger/issue management class and can show he can conduct himself with civility. ANY person provoking another with taunts and threats should be treated to the same; expulsion from all high school athletic events until they can prove themselves civil.

Anonymous said...

CMS (and the DA's office) needs to treat all of these cases similarly. If assault is assault then he should be charged with it...he shouldn't be allowed any leniancy because he coaches football. I do agree with the DA, there are too many cases tying up the court's time right now. Isn't it interesting to see how frequently people who coach and play the sport that we as Americans worship get away with things???

Anonymous said...

As a prosecutor in a different office, let me just say that to waste the courts' resources on what is the equivalent of a cross-warrant since it appears both could be charged is quite frankly a waste. All you end up with is two Class 2 misdemeanor convictions and a fine with suspended jail time and the story continued to be a issue for at least a month or more as it gets scheduled and dealt with in the district courts, and that's assuming it isn't appealed to the Superior Court. Both parties were at fault, and Mr. Gilchrist made the right decision not to waste precious resources in this case. He and his office have far better things to do, it's called prosecutorial discretion.

Anonymous said...

Lang, in football this would have been a 15 yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. It is hard to fight through a fence. I think they should reinstate him and let things return to normal. he served a penalty and alot of negative publicity. As far as "Joe citizen" he may have been charged but it would have been dropped or definitely found not guilty. The right decision was made based on the legal system and the fact that chances of a guilty verdict for either would have been extremely rare. Shame on anonymous for not knowing that he did not punch or push a parent. Deliver a correct message by knowing the facts.

Anonymous said...

We ask why we don't have better educators working with our kids. Low pay, challenging kids, and parents who are part of the problem. Football is a game, folks. Stop taking the game so seriously and be grateful for those teachers and coaches who care enough to take on the responsibility of helping to teach our kids to care for themselves and be contributors to our society.

Don't like how they do it? Go earn your teacher's certificate and do a better job.

However, showing your backside at a child's game should earn you immediate ejection from the premises. Smacking a rude, abusive jerk sure doesn't seem like much of crime.

John said...

Langston Wertz is obviously a Tom Knotts fan & agrees with him recruiting high school kids & supports his arrogant behavior.
I wonder if it was your face getting slammed by the fence Mr. Wertz, if you would feel the same way.

John

Anonymous said...

I think Knotts should be reinstated immediately and that CMS should apologize for suspending him in the first place. Frankly, I'm surprised he didn't do more to this out-of-control parent than push a fence against his face after being cursed and yelled out in such a manner. Parents today seem to think that their children are above criticism. It's never THEIR precious baby that does something wrong and how dare a football coach speak to their offspring that way. Give me a break!

Macy said...

Wow John, wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning? What makes you think that after all the criticism that TK gets that if he were recruiting, that CMS wouldn't have caught him by now. HIGH POWERED parents in other schools having been crying to the CMS systme for years that Knox is recruiting and guess what, they can't find a bit of information to back it up. Funny how all the people that loose to Independence love to cry about things that have no facts. The District Attorney decided that there was not enough evidence to charge him and that after investigation, the parent provoked the incident and there are multiple reported stories that the parent pushed the fence first provoking TK to push it back. No harm was intended. I am sure if there would have been punches thrown, then the story would be much different. Calm down John.

Anonymous said...

I thought Langston was a Butler fan??? atleast he is smart enough to see the situation for what it is

Anonymous said...

Take football out of this. This is not a football issue, it is a behavior issue. The buses were at the the other side of the field. Knotts went out of his way to confront the parent. I agree the parent should not have been abusive, but that does not give Knotts the right to do what he did. And yes, I was there.Sometimes a man needs to know his limitations....knotts did not. I hope he is suspended for the rest of season, this will allow him to work on his behavior as a head coach. Stop blaming Butler for any of this, they did not having anything to do with this. Indy needs to control it's parents and coach.

Matthew said...

I was there too, and the Butler fans and players were blocking the path to the buses. TK also walking about 15 feet to confront the parent, and the parent hit the fence first after saying he would kick Tommy's butt (in not so nice words) so get your facts straight, because I was about 5 feet away from that.

Anonymous said...

The behavior of the parent was totally out of line and frankly he deserved to get his ass kicked.

Anonymous said...

Great column Langston. I keep waiting for you to take over for Scott or Tom. You know the local scene and you make sense. Good work. I'm not a Knotts fan, but he's taken all the blame here and the Avant guy not too much. They both were wrong but this is minor stuff.

john said...

Macy,
The DA did not decide the parent provoked the inncedent. He simply didn't want to waste the courts time.
Knotts acted like a thug.. plain & simple....

He should be fired.. What kind of message doe's it send to players if CMS can't even get the coaches to show some class & restraint ??

Stop making excuses !

macy said...

John,

I was 10ft away from the incident. I am sorry, where were you?

Anonymous said...

Langston, your position presumes guilt. What rule did TK break? There was no fight. The taunting and threat was initiated by the dad. The act of intimidation (pushing the fence) came from the dad. TK's retaliation was the same, intended to match and intimidate, not injure. CMS should drop the suspension immediately. CMS, put TK on the sidelines and let's get this Big I party started!

Anonymous said...

CMS needs to discipline Knotts as they would discipline any other teacher, coach or employee who responded to verbal provocation from a parent or student with physical violence. Given the fact that Knotts and the parent were separated by a chain link fence, I sincerely doubt that Knotts truly believed he was in physical danger that would necessitate his violent reaction. Furthermore, I believe any reasonable person who takes a job as a high school sports coach (especially a coach of a high profile sport such as football) realizes he or she may be heckled by emotional fans during the course of a game. This doesn't mean that it's right or acceptable to heckle our coaches, but simply that it's an expected part of coaching. Knotts should have been able to restrain himself from physical violence in the face of the heckling that surely he has come to expect in more than 20 years of coaching. CMS should discipline him for his unreasonable reaction to a situation that so many other coaches in CMS and elsewhere have the grace to deal with in a non-violent fashion every day. Knotts set a terrible example for his players and CMS would be remiss to let it go unpunished. This is not a case for the DA's office, but rather, it is a case that CMS needs to handle internally.

Anonymous said...

It was nothing more than 2 men posturing-up during a heated verbal exchange in which I think the parent was extremely out of line. Like 2 guys shoving each other around "the pile" after the whistle is blown. 15-yarder, lets play ball!

And Parents, if you think your child is receiving poor grades or "less-than" stellar teaching do you go directly to the school, walk in the classroom and start screaming and yelling obscenities at that teacher or administrator? NO, YOU DONT! This behavior is totally unacceptable from a parent/fan... this guy is NOT a FAN of our team or our coaches. Coach Knotts stood up for his players and his coaches when an out-of-control "fan/parent" went absolutely nuts. I admire that! Dont start no $hit, wont be no $hit!

2 games Lang Dawg? Come on! When players get suspended, they still practice... Let TK get back to work today!

Anonymous said...

I am more concerned that Knotts reportedly made the comment, "After all I have done for you people." What does he mean by "you people"

Anonymous said...

Langston, I agree with most of what you said. I am not a TK fan. He is arrogant and egotistical, but he is a good football coach and like someone else said makes the kids toe the line and stay out of trouble. I read the story about the grandfather wanting an apology. How about the father, grandpa and uncle apologizing? Their own son, grandson, nephew pleaded with them to shut up and they kept on. I blame CMS for it also. Witnesses said a CMS security woman was standing close by and should have stepped in and asked the trouble makers to leave. Knotts should not have approached the fence, but that is exactly what the Avants wanted. A shame Knotts played into their hands. The son must be so proud of his Dad! What a great example!!

Anonymous said...

If this were a player and an overzealous fan (there are just as many if not more than parents), what would folks say to do to the player? The punishment should be the same or greater for the coach who is supposed to lead the players.

Justin said...

Good luck to the boys tomorrow. Looks like Pete Gorman followed your advice Langston.

Anonymous said...

Wow.. we have come to the point in society that a perent/fan can ABUSE a human being and not be the bad guy. I think CMS should re-instate ASAP and ask for the parent to write 100 times' I will respect others and not call then names." lets get the control back in society....
Soon the inmates will be running the jails if we are not carfeul...
RESPECT others if you wish to be respected... the father should be suspended...

Anonymous said...

What is sad is teachers also get treated this way. Some parents lack respect for teachers. I've been teaching in CMS for 25 years and it seems like every there is at least one parent who behaves inappropriately. It is very disheartening as a educator who loves the kids...

Parent said...

And you wonder how things get out of hand! People read your comments.... you are bickering and arguing over another argument! You people are just to Hypocritical! No parent should ever approach a Coach or Official in a hostile manner. If I remember correctly, the parent was upset and cursing the Coach because of the last play he called. In addition, it seems after reading your comments there are several that would retaliate after being pushed. Your children are reading these comments PEOPLE. What are you as PARENTS teaching them? I was not there at the game and I am not from Charlotte. So this is an outside view looking in or should I say reading in.

Everybody has to loose at some point in something. It is hard for us to see our children learn some lessons in their young lives, but they are lessons that will help them in life as human beings.

Anonymous said...

he should be fired, that's what would happen to any other coach but since he's won so many titles he will forgiven like a hero what a bunch of bs.

Anonymous said...

So what kind of example is Knotts setting for the guys? If you don't like what is being said go after the other guy? I think not! He's the leader of the team and the adult in this, the guy was on the other side of the fence, if Knotts hasn't developed a tough skin by now he needs to give it up. Fans sometimes say stupid stuff, doesn't give you the right to go after them. Knotts you can't teach what you yourself do not pratice. The law is for all people what makes this man any different?

Anonymous said...

So what kind of example is Knotts setting for the guys? If you don't like what is being said go after the other guy? I think not! He's the leader of the team and the adult in this, the guy was on the other side of the fence, if Knotts hasn't developed a tough skin by now he needs to give it up. Fans sometimes say stupid stuff, doesn't give you the right to go after them. Knotts you can't teach what you yourself do not pratice. The law is for all people what makes this man any different?