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Did Pop Warner Coaches Set Bounties on 10-, 11-Year-Old Players?

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By Andrew Lu on September 25, 2012 6:57 AM

Two Pop Warner coaches are accused of offering bounties to their 10- and 11-year-old players to make big hits and knock out opponents during games.

Coach Darren Crawford and assistant coach Richard Bowman of the Red Cobras football team in Tustin, Calif., allegedly offered cash for hits during the team's undefeated 2011 season, reports The Orange County Register.

This "scandal" allegedly occurred four months before we heard about the New Orleans Saints' bounty scandal that rocked the NFL. Considering how unsavory the Saints' bounty scandal was involving highly-paid trained athletes, the alleged bounty scandal in Tustin involving fifth graders would be that much more disgusting if true.

A former assistant coach came forward and said that Crawford and Bowman offered cash rewards if their players knocked out certain targeted players in specific games, reports the OC Register. The story was corroborated in interviews with a parent and other players, along with signed statements by two players.

The coaches don't deny targeting opposing players, but they do deny that they instructed their team to injure the players and that they offered money for it. One of the allegedly targeted players suffered a concussion in the Pop Warner Orange Bowl last November. The player who delivered the hit was allegedly paid by Crawford after the game.

Pop Warner league officials in the region did investigate the claims, but decided not to issue any punishments or sanctions after finding no evidence of a bounty program, reports the OC Register.

Despite the internal investigation, parents of the allegedly victimized players can still consider bringing a personal injury lawsuit or possibly even filing criminal complaints against the coaches.

The Pop Warner officials may have an incentive not to find any wrongdoing, as that could potentially open the door to liability. If an independent investigation confirms an alleged bounty program, the adult coaches could possibly face criminal and civil assault charges.

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