While social media was ablaze with reaction to a video posted showing Elba head football coach Pate Harrison pushing his son from behind during a Monday JV game, there was no developments from the Elba administration Wednesday, less than 24 hours after Superintendent Chris Mosley placed Harrison on administrative leave.
Mosley in a Dothan Eagle interview early Wednesday night said there was no new development and that an investigation was still ongoing. He also added no specially-called board meeting had been established.
Harrison, when contacted by the Eagle Wednesday afternoon, didn’t want to make any comments on the matter.
Meanwhile, an 11-second video circulated on social media of the incident at the JV game. The video, taken from the press box, shows the player, believed to be the son, coming to the Elba sideline and walking by a coach believed to be Harrison at the 40-yard line. The son walks by and four yards later at the 36, turns his head to the right while still walking ahead, possibly saying something.
At the point, the coach started racing toward the player who continued to walk with his head turned in the other direction. The coach, after working around another player, hit the player in the back upper shoulders with both hands at the 31-yard line, appearing to knock the player down.
The video ended right there as a nearby wall blocked out whatever action happened afterwards.
Mosley confirmed late Tuesday night that Harrison, the Tigers’ head football coach, was placed on administrative leave and veteran assistant Glenn Johnson was named interim head coach.
“Right now, all of this is within the last 24 hours, and at this time all I am releasing is that I will confirm that he (Harrison) has been placed on administrative leave,” Mosley said Tuesday night. “I still have some work (investigating) to do so there is no further comment about it, but he is on administrative leave.”
Mosley verified that administrative leave means Harrison will not be involved at Elba as a teacher and as a coach.
“When you are administrative leave that means he will not be a part of the school or the program at this time,” Mosley said.
Mosley said there was no timetable on Harrison’s “administrative leave.”
“This is all new, so I prefer to keep numbers out of this until I have a little more time (to investigate),” Mosley said.
He did confirm that Johnson, a longtime assistant at the school and the head junior varsity coach, would “handle the coaching duties Friday” when the Tigers travel to Florala.
The Elba superintendent added, “I will not rush to judgment on anything. (I will do my) due diligence.”
Mosley would not divulge what prompted the action to suspend the Elba coach, though, Harrison, in a letter posted Tuesday evening on the Elba High School Football website, apologized for the JV incident Monday that involved his son.
“By now most of you have heard that I embarrassed myself, the Elba football program, and my family,” Harrison wrote in his post. “In 14 years of coaching I have never truly lost my cool until my own child told me to shut up. That is no excuse for me snatching him up, and I apologize to everyone who was there to witness this event. I am truly sorry that my actions has put the team in a bind and the extra work on the coaches. The program is bigger than any one person and I know the team will continue to be successful.”
Harrison is in his second year at Elba and has guided the program to an 11-4 record, including 3-1 this season. The Tigers went 8-3 and advanced to the first round of the Class 1A state playoffs in Harrison’s first season last year.
Prior to coming to Elba, Harrison, a New Brockton native, had a highly successful run at Dale County, guiding the Warriors to a 46-24 record over seven seasons, including a Class 3A state runner-up finish in 2014. That team featured a host of talented players, including Mr. Football runner-up Jamarius Henderson, who played briefly at the University of Memphis and at Troy University.