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Northeast assistant in the clear

Northeast assistant football coach Jay Austin "did the best he could" in a postgame altercation with senior Eric Terrell on Oct. 27, an investigation by the county's Office of Professional Standards revealed.

The OPS levied no disciplinary action against Austin, other than a letter of caution. Austin, a special education teacher, returned to work Nov. 10 after a brief stay on paid administrative leave.

He could not be reached for comment.

Terrell filed a complaint with police on Oct. 27, saying he was "grabbed and picked up for no reason" by Austin, son of head coach Jerry Austin, during a team meeting.

Jay Austin has said he merely defended himself against the 18-year-old, whom he said elbowed him in the throat and ribs.

Austin was cleared of any criminal action by the St. Petersburg Police Department in early November. An OPS investigation followed, and its findings were made public Thursday.

"Could it have been handled a different way? Possibly," OPS administrator Jim Lott said. "Did he do something wrong? We're not so sure. Our opinion is that he did best he could in those circumstances in trying to resolve an issue."