Jamie Joyner to return as Nature Coast football coach
BROOKSVILLE — Jamie Joyner will once again prowl the sidelines as head football coach at Nature Coast Technical High School.
The Hernando County School Board on Monday reinstated Joyner after its investigation into an allegation that he threw punches at a student during a melee at a football game Nov. 7 against Groveland South Lake.
The school district had suspended Joyner with pay in November as it investigated the allegations made by a game official. On Monday, the district concluded "there has been no victim identified anywhere," executive business services director Heather Martin said.
Also, the Lake County Sheriff's Office has said Joyner will not be charged because no one has filed a criminal complaint against him. Joyner was suspended six weeks by the Florida High School Athletic Association after an official said he had thrown punches during the brawl.
Three Nature Coast players will be charged this week with misdemeanor offenses for their roles in the brawl, Lake County Cpl. James Vachon said Monday. The fight began after the lights went out with three minutes, 45 seconds remaining.
None of the players were identified because they are minors, and they will not be physically arrested as the state Department of Juvenile Justice will handle their cases, Vachon said. A criminal complaint concerning a South Lake player was dropped for lack of evidence.
Nature Coast finished its season 9-2 after the FHSAA canceled its final two games as part of its punishment, including the cancellation of its Class 3A region quarterfinal against Williston.
Izzy Gould can be reached at (813) 909-4619.
© 2016 Tampa Bay Times
In an interview Joyner answers questions about the ordeal:
What is your reaction to today's developments?
I feel a huge relief. It turned my life upside down. It's all I thought about every day since Nov. 7. The hardest part is going through it. You have to allow the process to take its course. My feeling was the truth always comes out. I didn't do anything wrong, and I dispute the fact that I threw punches.
Did you ever think you would lose your job?
Honestly, yeah. I knew I had the truth on my side. But we both know that doesn't always matter.
Did you ever consider resigning?
Resigning would have been like admitting I did something wrong. And I would never quit on my team.
Do you feel bad for Central and Tavares and those seasons ending as a result of the brawl?
Central is a big rival of ours. We won't spend Thanksgiving dinner together. But for them to have their season end the way ours did, I feel terrible. They deserved to play, and Tavares deserved to play. It's a terrible way to end the season.
What would you do differently in that situation?
After (the brawl) against Central we came up with a plan to stay on our sideline, and that's what we did this time. The next time the lights go out I don't know I could do anything differently.
The season ended at 9-2 after the FHSAA canceled your final two games. Your thoughts?
That's hard to talk about. I know my kids are still dealing with it. I'm still dealing with it. I told you we would be playing Pasco in the third round. We felt like we had a team that was built for a great playoff run. We wanted to avenge losses to Williston and North Marion and that was all set up. It's hard to swallow.
Looks like you'll have a next season. Have you thought about it?
I have to get over this season first.