A college football player punched a referee during a stoppage in play during a game Saturday night in Ventura, California, sending the unconscious referee crashing to the turf.
The visiting Mt. San Antonio College lineman, Bernard Schirmer, was arrested following the confrontation, accused of punching the unidentified side judge in the middle of the third quarter in a game against Ventura College, college police confirmed.
The referee was seen walking Schirmer back to his huddle during the game after breaking up an argument between players.
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As the referee is seen ushering Schirmer along, he is punched and falls to the ground. Schirmer was immediately ejected from the game and arrested on suspicion of felony battery, according to Ventura County Community College District Police Department.
In the video, commentators Alan Squatrito and Jeff Stoyanoff can be heard reacting in total disbelief after the punch.
"Oh my God, the ref just got punched in the face by a player!" one said. "What?! I’ve never seen anything like that before in my life!"
The Ventura County Star reported California Community College Athletic Association bylaws say hitting an official can be punished by up to a five-year ban.
In a statement to NBC4, Mt. SAC said "the incident is being fully reviewed and addressed by all official parties."
The college said after reviewing video footage and interviewing those involved and outside witnesses, it maintains that Schirmer "unintentionally hit the referee."
"Out of frustration, Mr. Schirmer struck himself on the helmet, a habit he often does to calm himself down ... he inadvertently hit the referee and initially believed someone else had done so," the statement reads.
Schirmer was released on bail Sunday morning at 7 a.m.
He was suspended for five years, according to Jim Sartoris, commissioner for the Southern California Football Association, who says says it is protocol per the association's rules.
The school will try to appeal the suspension, Sartoris said.
Video Credit: SoCalCollegeSports.com