School board candidate defends high school game ejection

joseph byers

LOS LUNAS, N.M. (KRQE) – Many parents have seen it or been a part of yelling at the referee during a high school game and gets told to walk because of it. Now a Los Lunas School Board Candidate is in the middle of one of those stories, and he says he stands behind what he did.

Los Lunas Schools says it kicked school board candidate Joseph Byers out of a weekend basketball game for unsportsmanlike conduct after he yelled at a referee. However, Byers says the ref was in the wrong and letting basketball players get hurt.

“All I was trying to do is to protect our kid,” said Byers.

Byers, a father of six and first-time Los Lunas School Board candidate says he makes no apologies about what he said to a referee during the weekend game.

“What he did was wrong and I believe it was unethical and I’ll still stand by that even now,” said Byers.

Byers was kicked out of the Saturday Tigers game against Santa Teresa in Los Lunas. It was another close contest for Los Lunas, with the game ending in a Tigers victory, 33 to 26. Even students admit, the games can get rowdy.

“Good team, fun to watch, always fun time,” said Los Lunas High student Josh Gilpan.

However, Byers says a Santa Teresa player got too rough and he claims the ref wasn’t calling it.

“I yelled out to the refs, ‘number 41 is elbowing our kids,’ and this went on two or three times and finally he turned around to me and said ‘I don’t want to hear it,” said Byers.

However, Byers says he kept pressure on the ref.

“He goes, if you think you can do a better job, come out here and do it,” said Byers. “I told him, I don’t want your job, I want you to do your job, protect our kids.”

Those comments among others got Byers ejected. The school’s incident report says Byers had “bad sportsmanship” and was “making rude comments.” The school resource officer who wrote the report also claims that Byers used profanity as he left.

However, Byers disagrees with what happened. He’s now filed a complaint with the New Mexico Activites Association about the referee.

KRQE News 13 called NMAA executive director Sally Marquez on Thursday. Marquez said she had “no information” about the incident and “no comment.”

Byers says while the ejection may hurt him in the race for school board, he won’t back down from what he did.

“I wanted to protect our kids, and being a school board member, that’s what it’s all about is protecting the kids,” said Byers.

KRQE News 13 was unable to reach the referee in question for comment about the incident Thursday.

While the NMAA refused to comment, Byers has learned the organization is now looking into his claims. Byers has been back to another Los Lunas High basketball game since the weekend. His family says the school let him attend without any problems.

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