PANAMA CITY, FL (WJHG/WECP) The Bay High School football team will have to practice and play this week without the help of their head coach Mike Watkins.
Coach Watkins has been suspended, without pay, by Bay County School Superintendent Bill Husfelt in the wake of Watkins' arrest early Saturday morning for drunk driving.
Mr. Husfelt releasing a statement Monday afternoon announcing the length of that suspension and stating after meeting with the coach Husfelt feels Watkins is taking responsibility for his actions, and is agreeing to counseling and as well as what the court might mandate.
Coach Watkins put out a statement this afternoon stating "I am aware my actions this weekend have disappointed a lot of people but no one is more disappointed in me than I am. As a Coach I know that I am charged with being a role model to my athletes and that's a responsibility I take very seriously."
The coach goes on to say he'll personally apologize to every player and team parent, and promises to use the experience to become a better man, coach and role model.
Offensive line coach Tom Elliott's been named as the interim coach to guide the team in practice this week and into Thursday's game with Chiles.
Bay currently 1-3 on the season, a win over Rutherford to start, then consecutive losses to Crestview, St. Joe and Arnold this past Friday night.
Below are the entire statements released Monday by the Bay County School Board in regards to this situation.
From Mr. Husfelt:
"I met with Coach Watkins earlier today (Monday) to discuss this situation and its impact on his career, his school and his team. Coach Watkins is committed to doing whatever it takes to learn and grow from this experience and he accepts responsibility for his actions. He is currently suspended without pay for a week and has agreed to pursue counseling along with any other court-ordered sanctions."
From coach Watkins:
"I am aware that my actions this weekend have disappointed a lot of people but no one is more disappointed in me than I am. As a Coach I know that I am charged with being a role model to my athletes and that’s a responsibility I take very seriously. Please know that I will be offering my apologies to every player and parent on my team and I promise to use this experience to become a better man, a better coach and a better role model. I will be cooperating fully with both Bay District Schools and the court system as this process continues. I genuinely appreciate the opportunity to have a second chance and I am sincere in both my remorse and regret and my desire and commitment to improve."
From Bay Principal Billy May:
"We share the Superintendent’s disappointment but also share Coach Watkins’ optimism that this situation will lead to improvements and opportunities for him as a coach and as a role model. Our team is in excellent hands this week with Coach Elliott and we know that he will help our players remain focused on the game. This has been a difficult situation to work through but we commend the professionalism of our staff and our athletes and we appreciate the district’s support."