Security changes at Montgomery County high school games announced after massive brawl

Big changes are being made to the way players, coaches, and fans are kept safe at high school football games in Montgomery County.

Leaders from the public school district held a news conference Wednesday afternoon to announce a number of enhanced security measures at athletic events. 

"We're at a point where we realize some adjustments need to be made around some of our athletic programs," MCPS Superintendant Monifa McKnight said. 

The new rules, which include no re-entry after halftime, no backpacks, and no large gatherings during games, are in response to a massive brawl at a recent Gaithersburg vs. Northwest football game and the off-field altercations that occurred after the match. 

Football coach could be facing assault charge after fight at Gaithersburg High School

MCPS officials mentioned fights like these can’t happen and indicated there were some other instances less severe than this one at other games.

So far, four juveniles and a 19-year-old have been charged for a second fight that happened after last Friday’s game.

FOX 5 has obtained court documents that give some clarity on the altercation between Gaithersburg's athletic director and Northwest's head football coach.

Gaithersburg Athletic Director William Gant outlined in a private criminal complaint that he said he was trying to deescalate the on-field fight when he was "struck in the head and shoulder from the side by another person." 

"The man was later identified by the Northwest High School athletics specialist to be the head football coach Travis Hawkins," the complaint reads. 

Eventually, there will be a court hearing and police and the state’s attorney will determine if and how to proceed.

Montgomery County officials declined Wednesday afternoon to elaborate on the status of either men in their roles, citing it being a personnel matter despite the very public fight.

FOX 5 spoke with an attorney for Hawkins who said she had no comment at this time.

MCPS has released a statement saying it is "committed to the safety and security of students, families and community members who want to enjoy various athletic contests, and will not tolerate the indefensible and violent behavior and actions that have occurred in the opening weeks of this fall season."

The new safety measures are scheduled to go into effect at this weekend's athletic events and will. The following tiered actions will go into effect at all high school games for the remainder of the season:

  • Students of the participating schools will be allowed to attend with a valid ticket and with their student ID or Synergy verification of their schedule.
  • All other school-aged spectators must be accompanied by an adult chaperone—this includes all elementary and middle school students and high school students from other schools.
  • Adult chaperones must stay and supervise students for the duration of their stay at the game. Spectators are asked to be patient at the gate, as admission may take additional time.
  • Students and spectators must sit in the stands during the game. While there will be potential gatherings at halftime and postgame, large gatherings will not be allowed during the game.
  • There will be no re-entry and spectators will not be admitted after halftime.
  • Backpacks will not be allowed.
  • Only student-athletes, coaches, game officials, athletic department staff, and credentialed personnel and media are permitted on the sidelines.
  • Event security personnel will use separate entrances, staggered exits and additional support in high-traffic areas.
  • Inappropriate and unruly behavior may result in suspension from subsequent MCPS athletic activities.

Watch the full MCPS news conference below: