A Taunton High School assistant hockey coach who allegedly chest-bumped, shoved, and bit a referee after his team lost a game Wednesday night was apparently upset over an icing call made during the first period, according to a police report released at the coach’s arraignment in Wrentham District Court Thursday.
William C. Kenney III, 46, of Taunton, was released on personal recognizance after pleas of not guilty were entered on his behalf to charges of assault and battery and disorderly conduct. The proceeding was brief, and Kenney told the judge that he had hired a lawyer, who did not appear to be present.
The Attleboro police chief was in the stands when the fight broke out at the Foxboro Sports Center.
“I was absolutely befuddled that I was witnessing it, from start to finish. Instinctively, my law enforcement training kicked in and I assisted [a Foxborough police] lieutenant, but I was utterly embarrassed for Taunton High School,” said Chief Kyle Heagney, who is also the head coach for the Norton High School varsity hockey team and was waiting for his team to play. “I’ve never seen it in 20 years.”
Kenney submitted his letter of resignation to the school district Thursday morning, according to a statement from Taunton Superintendent Julie Hackett.
“As we investigate the details of the incident, please know that we will continue to hold all Taunton Public School coaches and employees to the very highest of standards,” Hackett wrote to the school community.
The Taunton team lost a game to King Philip Regional High School, 9-1, Wednesday night at the Foxboro Sports Center. The two teams were at the center of the ice shaking hands, when Kenney walked from his team’s bench toward one of the game referees, according to the police report.
The two argued shortly after 9 p.m., and Kenney allegedly chest-bumped the referee, then shoved him. The referee pulled Kenney’s jersey over his head, and the two began wrestling, according to the report. A lieutenant working a detail at the game, as well as Chief Heagney, pulled the two men apart and took Kenney from the ice.
“When kids see this, it sends absolutely the wrong message,” Heagney said. “His conduct was extremely unbecoming. He’s supposed to be a role model for these young student athletes.”
The referee told police that Kenney was angry over an icing call in the first period, and that Kenney had taunted him the whole game. When Kenney walked over at the end of the game, he allegedly told the referee that he hadn’t had his workout, that he was going to “kick [the referee’s] [expletive],” and that the referee “can be my workout!”
During the fight, the referee told police, Kenney bit his finger, drawing blood.
Reached by phone, the referee said he had no comment.
Heagney said that when he and the lieutenant were breaking up the fight, Kenney was “swinging haymakers and punches left and right.” As officers led Kenney off the ice, Heagney said Kenney was belligerent, yelling, screaming, and resisting arrest.
Parents from Taunton began to get upset as officers arrested the coach, said Heagney, who could hear them shouting and swearing about police.
“It was like a mob mentality,” he said. Parents followed them out into the lobby, he said, but Foxborough police managed to calm them down, explaining why the coach was being arrested.
“The Foxborough Police Department should be commended on their response,” he said.
Kenney was ordered to stay away from the referee and from all youth sporting events.
He left his arraignment without speaking to reporters, instead running into the basement bathroom of the courthouse and then back out the door to his car.