Ravenwood head football coach Matt Daniels and assistant coach Ryan Fowler have been suspended by the Williamson County Schools system pending an investigation into published reports that Fowler put on pads and practiced with the team, resulting in an injury to a player.
First reported at PaulKuharsky.com, the website indicated that former Tennessee Titan Fowler participated in practice drills in light pads and a helmet last month. As a result of the activity, a Raptor player allegedly suffered a concussion after a collision with Fowler on Sept. 18.
Officials at the central office of the Williamson County Schools district were apparently caught off guard by the report Thursday morning, but immediately began looking into the situation.
Late Friday morning, WCS Communications Director Carol Birdsong issued a statement for the district.
“Yesterday, WCS was made aware of allegations of potential inappropriate participation by coaches at a Ravenwood High football practice," the statement read. "An investigation was immediately begun, and the investigation is continuing. Head Coach Matt Daniels and Coach Ryan Fowler have been suspended pending investigation. For tonight’s game against Dickson County, Coach Andy Elrod will lead the team.”
Ravenwood (4-1, 2-1 Region 6-6A) travels to Dickson County (1-5, 0-2) Friday night.
Following the WCS Media Protocol, the Williamson Herald did not attempt to contact either Daniels or Fowler.
Fowler is currently a non-faculty, unpaid assistant coach at the northern Williamson County school. A former Dallas Cowboy, Titan and New York Jet, he is reported to be extremely popular with players, coaches and students.
In a reversal from their initial responses yesterday, officials at the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association said today that coaches participating in practice is not a violation of association rules and the group had informed school officials there was no grounds for disciplinary action from the state office.
The rule cited, specifically Article II, Section 14: “Only students who are enrolled and in regular attendance at a school may participate in practice.”
This change in position by the TSSAA could leave open the door to relieve responsibility for the outcome of any practice activities, including injury to players, as a natural consequence of the nature of the game.