RINGLING, Okla. (KFOR) – The Ringling High School Principal and head football coach has been charged following allegations of verbal and physical abuse to student-athletes on the team, as first reported by The Oklahoman.
Philip Koons is now charged with Outraging Public Decency for ‘willfully and wrongfully committing an act that was injurious to public morals by using profane, degrading and derogatory language towards student athletes under his supervision’ between August 2021 and February 2023.
“[The victims and their families] have mixed emotions. They’re happy finally something has been done by the state to Coach Koons, because up until now, we’ve been going through this since February and so far, the state has done nothing to Coach Koons. He’s been out there coaching his football team and abusing his players this year, just like he has for 20 years,” said one of the Ringling victims’ attorneys, Tod Mercer.
He said he’s disappointed in the charge Koons was hit with on Tuesday because it does not account for the alleged abuse endured by players.
Mercer added he and his co-counsel, Cameron Spradling provided a list of half a dozen recommended charges to the Jefferson County District Attorney, including child abuse.
Parent concerns revolving around Koons were brought up in the Ringling School Board meeting on February 13, 2023.
“This man’s abusive power wreaks psychological torture on these students. For two years, my son has begged us to stay quiet for fear of retaliation especially after having to do the naked up downs,” said a mom.
The “up downs” are referring to burpees where a person jumps up and then jumps down into a push-up before jumping back up for another.
The mom also claims Koons called her son derogatory names like “p***y.”
“What’s going on there is one of his methods of breaking these boys down and grooming. And that is humiliating. Embarrassing. It puts him in a position of power where he can make them do that,” stated Mercer.
Despite the allegations, the school voted 5-0 to renew Koons’s contract during that meeting.
By February 22, the Oklahoma State Department of Education told News 4 Koons was officially placed on leave.
“Phil Koons of Ringling Public Schools has officially been put on paid administrative leave while an ongoing criminal investigation about the allegations and concerns brought against him is completed. We will continue to monitor the investigation as we have since the beginning, and support Superintendent Kent Southward’s decision,” said State Superintendent Ryan Walters.
During that time, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation was investigating the allegations against Koons.
Despite that investigation, Koons was reinstated as of June 1.
The OSBI completed its investigation and handed over the findings to the Jefferson County District Attorney in May.
Koons’ status with the school following the charge is unknown, however, he still listed in the Ringling High School faculty directory as principal.
“[State Superintendent] Ryan Walters should move today and file today to revoke his license to teach. He should never be allowed to teach again in the state of Oklahoma. He’s a danger to children. He’s proven that in three or four different schools. Now, he’s been charged with a crime,” stated Mercer. “In all of [Supt. Walters’] posts now, that’s what he says, ‘We protect kids. Our main goal is to protect these kids.’ Well, bulls**t. You know, you’re protecting kids from fake drag queens and banned books and things like that. You’re not concerned with kids that are being abused physically and most of all, psychologically.”
Mercer and Spradling are currently working on a lawsuit against Koons. Mercer said they’ve been waiting for a charge to be filed before finishing the lawsuit.
“We’re working on a novel. It’s just about like writing the novel,” said Mercer.
Mercer is hopeful more charges will be filed against Koons following the lawsuit. He is confused why Koons hasn’t been charged with child abuse already.
“For several reasons, to include, there is an ongoing investigation/prosecution, I will not comment at this time,” Jefferson County DA Jason Hicks told News 4 on Wednesday.
Mercer said he plans to have a sit down conversation with the DA about the charge he filed and the evidence provided.
Koons was inducted into the Oklahoma Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2022.
News 4 reached out to the Oklahoma Coaches Association about whether Koons will be stripped of that honor due to his charge.
“Until the courts decides these cases, it is premature to speculate what our Board of Directors would elect to do. Also, as a result of the status of the on-going situations, it would be irresponsible for us to discuss the matter any further at this point,” said Oklahoma Coaches Association Executive Director, Wayne Dozier.