TUSTIN, Calif. -- The entire coaching staff of the 2011 Tustin Red Cobras Junior Pee Wee football team was suspended for one year on Friday after an investigation into a reported bounty program involving young players.
The monthlong investigation by National Pop Warner concluded that though one payment "may have" been made to a player, there was no evidence of a broader bounty program.
Head coach, Darren Crawford, and president, Pat Galentine, of Tustin Pop Warner, were suspended last month after allegations surfaced that they paid 10- and 11-year-old players to intentionally injure opponents.
According to a report in the OC Register, Tustin Red Cobras head coach Darren Crawford and assistant coach Richard Bowman told their team to target specific players on the youth football teams from Yorba Linda, Santa Margarita and San Bernardino.
The revelations were made by then-assistant Cobras coach John Zanelli and three players interviewed by the Register.
Zanelli told The Register a handful of the 10 to 11-year-old children told him the coaches offered them cash for hard hits.
One of the targeted players, an 11-year-old running back from the Santa Margarita Stallions, suffered a concussion after he was hit by a Red Cobras player in the Pop Warner Orange Bowl last November.
The player who delivered the hit was paid by Crawford after the game, Zanelli told The Register.
The Register is not naming any of the players because of their ages.
he coaches have refuted the allegations, and the Orange Empire Conference Commissioners say the accusations are baseless.
In a statement, Steve McGinnis of the OEC said:
"We have conducted an independent investigation and held hearings with a panel of OEC Commissioners. The Orange Empire Conference came to the conclusion that the statements being made regarding a 'Bounty System' were either unfounded or over stated."
However, the parent of one of the Red Cobras players told The Register that money was paid to his son after the playoff game against Yorba Linda.
"My son said he had won the prize," said the father, whose name is not being used to protect the identity of his son.
"He had a good, clean hit. The kids voted his play as the play of the game. He showed me one $20 bill. He said the coaches, plural, gave it to him."