Pennsylvania school nixes coaching hire of Artrell Hawkins
PITTSBURGH — Retired NFL player Artrell Hawkins Jr.’s alma mater has rescinded its decision to hire him as football coach.
Bishop McCort High School in Johnstown announced Wednesday that the school had hired Hawkins, a 1994 graduate, to replace a coach who resigned the day before. But Sunday night, the school’s public relations spokesman, Matthew Beynon, issued a statement from Principal Tom Fleming rescinding the hiring.
“Coaching successions go through a formal process. … Unfortunately, this process was not appropriately followed in this circumstance,” the statement said. “We spoke with Mr. Hawkins and we sincerely appreciate his understanding in this unfortunate situation.”
Beynon did not immediately respond to questions about how the school’s hiring process and unspecified “protocols” also referenced in the principal’s statement were not followed.
But The Associated Press has learned that Hawkins was arrested on a domestic violence charge last year at his home near Cincinnati, though he was later found not guilty.
Beynon did not respond when asked whether that criminal case caused the school to change its mind about hiring Hawkins.
The AP could not immediately reach Hawkins for comment Monday. A message to be relayed through his father, who lives in Johnstown, some 60 miles east of Pittsburgh, was not immediately returned.
Hawkins played for four seasons at the University of Cincinnati after starring at Bishop McCort before the Cincinnati Bengals picked him in the second round of the 1998 draft. He played nine seasons in the NFL as a cornerback and safety, finishing with the New England Patriots in 2006.
Hawkins said at a news conference announcing his hiring that he felt as if he had just been hired by Notre Dame when he was picked to replace Coach Jerry Davitch, who resigned Tuesday.
According to court records, Hawkins was arrested in Springdale, Ohio, after his wife, Carrie, told police he kicked in a basement door “and caused her to be in fear for her and her children’s safety.” The couple has two children, Aeneas, 14, and Aria, 11, according to the records.
Court records show Hawkins was acquitted at an April 10 trial before Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge Cheryl Grant. The records don’t list the reason for the verdict.
But Cincinnati-based defense attorney, William Gallagher, said Hawkins was acquitted because he didn’t commit the crime police described.
Gallagher said Hawkins kicked in a door after his wife locked him outside during an argument but that he never threatened his wife, which was the basis for the charge. By the time police arrived, the couple was sitting across the dining room table from each other, Gallagher said.
Gallagher doesn’t know whether the domestic violence charge cost Hawkins the coaching job, but said he’s not surprised if it did.
“I’m so sorry he didn’t get that,” said Gallagher, who noted that Hawkins also lost a Fox Sports radio job because of his arrest. “That’s a shame for him.”
Bishop McCort has not indicated when a new coach may be hired.
The school has been rocked by an unrelated scandal in recent years stemming from sexual abuse allegations against a former athletic trainer.
That man, Brother Stephen Baker, committed suicide at his Franciscan monastery by stabbing himself in the heart in January 2013. That occurred nine days after the Diocese of Youngstown, Ohio, disclosed abuse settlements with 11 former students who said they were abused by Baker at John F. Kennedy High School in Warren, Ohio, from 1986 to 1990.
News of those settlements prompted more than 80 former Bishop McCort students to accuse Baker of abuse from the time he worked at the school from 1992 to 2001. That resulted in an $8 million settlement in October with the Altoona-Johnstown diocese. The diocese ran the school at the time, though McCort is now controlled by a private board.