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‘Coach talk’ gets heated

Ruston’s Baugh, Union Parish’s Spatafora involved in verbal altercation
Friday, February 14, 2020
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Leader file photos

Union Parish High School head football coach Joe Spatafora (above left) and Ruston High School head football coach Jerrod Baugh (below) reportedly got into a heated verbal altercation on Jan. 23 during the Louisiana High School Athletics Association convention in Baton Rouge.

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A verbal altercation that reportedly occurred in late January between the head football coaches for Ruston and Union Parish high schools at the annual Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA) convention in Baton Rouge is currently being investigated.

The incident between RHS head coach Jerrod Baugh and UPHS head coach Joe Spatafora is reportedly under investigation by the Union Parish School Board.

Union Parish Superintendent of Schools Ted Reeves and Lincoln Parish Superintendent of Schools Mike Milstead both declined comment, saying the issue is a personnel matter that cannot be commented on due to school board regulations.

Baugh said Thursday afternoon that he could not comment on the incident.

The Union Parish School Board’s investigation reportedly centers on threatening and racist statements Spatafora allegedly directed toward Baugh during an argument between the two coaches that occurred at a bar around midnight on Wednesday, Jan. 29.

According to a statement written on Ruston High School Athletic Department letterhead and signed by Baugh on Feb. 4, Spatafora allegedly approached Baugh inside the Crowne Plaza Hotel lobby bar where the coaches were drinking and asked him “why Ruston never schedules Union Parish for a football game?”

The letter states that Baugh responded by saying such a game would be a “lose/lose situation” for RHS because, “We would be expected to beat them and if we didn’t, that would look bad on our program.”

In his statement Baugh said that he at first thought Spatafora was joking before the UPHS head coach allegedly “took things to another level,” calling former Ruston High coaches Brad Laird and the late Billy Laird “mother f------ Ruston p------.”

Brad Laird is currently the head football coach at Northwestern State University.

The Ruston head coach said he asked Spatafora what team Spatafora thought RHS should drop off a very a tough schedule before the argument grew more heated, with Spatafora allegedly telling Baugh he should “knock my teeth out.” Baugh’s statement said after those remarks aimed at him, Spatafora called him a “n----- lover.”

Baugh’s statement named several other coaches who he said witnessed the altercation and that one of them “inquired as to why he called me that, and I told them I have a black girlfriend and that is the only reason I could imagine.”

In a statement reportedly written by Spatafora and dated Feb. 5, the UPHS head coach said that he considered Baugh’s answer to his scheduling question “insulting” and made in a “derogatory manner.”

Spatafora’s statement said that the argument between the two grew “heated” and that they both used profanity and behaved “in a way that we normally wouldn’t, had we not been drinking … As this continued, it got more aggressive, and another coach who was standing in the hall stepped between us.”

According to Spatafora’s statement, there was no physical contact made by either coach during the confrontation. The statement does not address the alleged racial slur.

It ends by saying, “I am embarrassed that I did not maintain a professional demeanor while representing my school and myself at this convention. I regret my actions and will ensure that I do not drink to excess in the future. I will only conduct myself in a professional manner from this date forward.”