UPDATE: 6:28 p.m.

Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. has suspended Columbus North Head Coach Tim Bless from coaching during games for the remainder of the football season as a result of the physical altercation that occurred between him and an assistant during the varsity football game at Southport High School on Oct. 13.

Jason Perry will remain as Columbus North’s interim coach for games played throughout the IHSAA tournament. Bless will, however, return to practices on Monday. Assistant coach Aaron Karrer will serve a one-game suspension on Oct. 27, as previously announced.

Additionally, a support plan, with personal and professional requirements regarding the altercation and/or additional concerns shared with BCSC, has been created and implemented for each coach, school officials said. Adherence to the mandatory support plans will be reviewed and monitored for compliance on a bi-weekly basis.
Statement from Tim Bless, emailed to The Republic at 12:06 p.m.:

My conduct at last Friday’s football game was unacceptable and for that I am remorseful and embarrassed. To the young men who are a part of our program and the Bull Dog family, I apologize to you for this conduct. My actions that evening did not represent the values we as a program expect. I am sorry for my actions toward my colleague Aaron Karrer who is like a brother to me, for the negative attention placed on our school and corporation and for being a poor ambassador to the game of football. More than anything, I am sorry for the pain I’ve caused my family.

We are grateful for the outpouring of love and support received from so many, and I am very appreciative of their forgiveness. I understand the emotions of my critics and am hopeful that they too can find forgiveness. I am resolute to grow from this experience. Ultimately, I am a sinner saved by His grace; and for that am eternally grateful.

Respectfully,

Tim Bless

Head Football Coach, Columbus North High School

Posted at 10:11 a.m. Friday

COLUMBUS, Ind. — While top Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. administrators continue discussions today regarding disciplinary measures taken with two Columbus North football coaches involved in an Oct. 13 sidelines scuffle, a group identified as North football captains and senior leaders have issued a statement on social media in support of their suspended coaches, Tim Bless and Aaron Karrer.

The statement, issued Thursday morning on a Columbus North football Twitter account, twitter.com/DogPackFB, said:

“We the players of the 2017 Columbus North High School football team fully support our head coach Tim Bless and our assistant coach Aaron Karrer. While their actions on last Friday were inexcusable, we believe this incident should not take precedent over their many years of profound leadership, personal development and character building of young men. Like any family, there will be disagreements, however, also like any family we forgive and embrace each other despite our misunderstandings. Football is a passionate sport and our coaches are very passionate. Coach Bless and Coach Karrer genuinely care about each and every player on the team. One mistake should not take away from the many hours these two coaches have poured into our lives on and off the field. The Bull Dog family is ready to accept our leaders back with open arms and move forward.”

The statement ends with Scripture from the Bible, Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind and passionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

An athletics department staff member did not know who controls that Twitter account, but said it is not the high school’s football booster club.

Five school district administrators began discussions Thursday afternoon to examine photographs of the physical altercation between Bless and Karrer to determine whether initial disciplinary steps were appropriate, Superintendent Jim Roberts said. Conversations about the matter were to continue today, he said.

Initial punishment taken by the school district, before the existence of photographs of the altercation were known, called for Bless and Karrer to be suspended for the team’s next game, the Oct. 27 sectional tournament opener. Bless was also suspended from football team activities this week.

Read more details in Saturday’s print edition of The Republic.