In unrelated abuse investigations into prominent Oklahoma high school football programs, criminal charges were filed Tuesday against Kingfisher head coach Jeff Myers and Ringling head coach Phil Koons.
Koons, who was reinstated June 1 after being placed on leave in February, has faced allegations that he bullied and harassed his players throughout a coaching career that has included stops at several state high schools. Among the allegations are claims that Koons exposed his genitals during a motivational speech.
In the Kingfisher case, District Attorney Mike Fields also charged former Kingfisher Public Schools assistant football coach Micah Nall, KPS board member Dana Golbek, and Justin Mecklenburg, whose son is suing the district and coaches in federal court for allowing a culture of hazing in the football program that he says rose to the level of “torture.”
Charged Tuesday with one count of felony child neglect, Myers was placed on administrative leave by KPS today. Nall, now a teacher at Western Heights Public Schools who previously pleaded guilty to obstructing a police investigation into his treatment of football players, was charged with one count of felony child abuse and one count of felony perjury.
Fields charged Justin Mecklenburg and Golbek each with one misdemeanor count of failure to report child abuse or neglect.
Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation detectives used evidence gathered as part of Mason Mecklenburg’s federal lawsuit — which is set for trial Dec. 5 — to build their case against the Kingfisher parties. Affidavits filed Tuesday (embedded below) appear to indicate that much of the evidence against Myers and Nall seems to focus on “the ring,” a tradition in the Kingfisher football locker room wherein players would wrestle or box each other, sometimes causing injuries.
“Jeff Myers, being a school employee and head football coach for the Kingfisher Public Schools, was in charge of the health, safety, and welfare of each student under his care. Myers was responsible for the health, safety, and welfare of each football player who was participating in extracurricular activities while attending Kingfisher Public Schools,” OSBI Special Agent Phillip Ott wrote in the probable cause affidavit for Myers. “Myers allowed students to be unsupervised and participate in fights where injuries occurred. Myers admitted knowledge of these fights and continued to allow them to go on.”
Despite online evidence, Western Heights says Nall not coaching
In the case against Nall, investigators also focused on “the ring,” alleging that Nall even participated in the activity on one occasion. Additionally, investigators allege that Nall punched a player during the 2015-2016 football season. Investigators also allege that Nall verbally abused players, calling one a “fat, worthless piece of shit.”
Nall had previously been investigated for child abuse but pleaded guilty to obstructing a police officer as part of a deal. He also agreed not to coach youth sports for one year and was hired as a teacher at Western Heights Public Schools in 2021.
On Wednesday, Western Heights spokesman Chris Culver told NonDoc that Micah Nall has not been coaching or interacting with students in the Western Heights football program, but that he does help analyze game footage for the team.
Despite Culver’s statement, Nall is listed as an assistant football coach for Western Heights on Max Preps, a website used by high school sports teams to display season information. On Sept. 22, Western Heights played a home game against the Tulsa NOAH Home School football team. A photo tweeted by a NOAH player shows Nall on the field after the game wearing Western Heights colors and a coaching headset. Nall is also associated with an offensive-lineman training academy called Trench Mafia.
“The Western Heights Public School District is dedicated to the welfare and security of our students, staff, and community,” Superintendent Brayden Savage said in a statement. “We are aware of a recent matter involving a WHPS staff member and have taken appropriate steps in response. The district is collaborating with law enforcement as needed. Ensuring a safe learning environment remains our priority.”
For the new perjury charge against Nall, OSBI investigators allege that he made multiple contradictory statements while under oath during depositions for Mason Mecklenburg’s federal lawsuit.
Despite the allegations against Myers, he has continued to serve as the head football coach at Kingfisher High School, which has a 2-5 record this year. In offering to settle the federal lawsuit against Myers, other current and former coaches and KPS, plaintiff Mason Mecklenburg has repeatedly requested that Myers be fired. Justin and Lyndy Mecklenburg, Mason’s parents, have even asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court to force either the KPS board or the State Board of Education to step in and begin termination proceedings against Myers.
The district, for its part, has declined to fire Myers, with leaders arguing in part that KPS cannot act until the lawsuit is settled or adjudicated. With the felony charge now filed against Myers, KPS Superintendent David Glover said in a statement that he has placed Myers on administrative leave.
“Nothing is more important to Kingfisher Public Schools than the safety, health and wellbeing of our students,” Glover said in the statement. “As a school district, we reaffirm our commitment to provide a welcoming, respectful and safe environment for every student and student athlete.”
Joe White, Myers’ lawyer in the lawsuit, said he welcomes the chance for Myers to clear himself of wrongdoing.
‘Startling for anyone to suggest that they should have done more’
The charges facing Golbek and Justin Mecklenburg for failure to report child abuse or neglect stem from the fact that, although both attempted to alert school district administrators to problems in the football program, neither reported the abuse to law enforcement.
“Based on this investigation, Justin learned about the physical and verbal abuse of [Mason Mecklenburg] being perpetrated by students and coaches during [Mason Mecklenburg’s] freshman year. Justin, by his own admissions, knew this abuse continued through [Mason Mecklenburg’s] sophomore year,” Ott wrote in the probable cause affidavit. “Justin and Lyndy spoke to school officials on multiple occasions regarding the abuse; however, they never reported the abuse to law enforcement.”
While Mason Mecklenburg was still in school, his parents reported their concerns with the football program to Golbek. Although Golbek told investigators she went to former KPS Superintendent Daniel Craig with their concerns, she also did not report the situation to law enforcement, according to the probable cause affidavit.
“Golbek only reported the physical, sexual, and verbal abuse of [Mason Mecklenburg] to the superintendent. Golbek never reported this to the police or to the Department of Human Services,” Ott wrote in the affidavit. “Golbek admitted as a school board member she is responsible for the health, safety, and welfare of the children of Kingfisher schools when allegations are brought to the school board.”
Neither Golbek nor Mecklenburg returned calls seeking comment prior to publication of this article.
Cameron Spradling, Mason Mecklenburg’s lead attorney and Justin and Lyndy Mecklenburg’s lawyer in the Oklahoma Supreme Court petition, called the charge against Justin Mecklenburg “startling.”
“Justin and Lyndy Mecklenburg have been relentless in their pursuit of justice for their son, Mason,” Spradling said. “They reported what happened to the person in charge — Jeff Myers. They demanded action by the coach, school board members, the district and prosecutors. They met with prosecutors without a lawyer to make sure law enforcement had a full understanding of all that has happened. They helped their son get lawyers to represent him in court. And they’ve even filed their own case in the Oklahoma Supreme Court in which they asked the court to intervene and take action because Kingfisher’s School Board and (State Superintendent) Ryan Walters have stood by and done nothing. So, it is startling for anyone to suggest that they should have done more.”
Spradling also praised the charges against Myers, Nall and Golbek.
“We are proud that Mason had the courage to take a stand for what is right and something is finally being done to protect the students in Kingfisher,” Spradling said. “Sadly, ‘the ring’ was just the tip of the iceberg. Kingfisher Public Schools created a culture of abuse, harassment and intimidation that lasted for years. Sexual assault, physical abuse and mental torture were part of Kingfisher High’s unofficial official curriculum in the athletic department. And Mason wasn’t the only victim.”
‘Willfully and wrongfully’: Phil Koons charged in Ringling
On the same day that Fields filed charges in the Kingfisher case, Jefferson County District Attorney Jason Hicks also charged Ringling High School football coach Phillip Koons with a misdemeanor count of outraging public decency.
In the charging document, Assistant District Attorney John Weedn wrote that Koons “willfully and wrongfully [committed] an act that was injurious to public morals by using profane, degrading and derogatory language towards student athletes under his supervision.”
According to reporting from The Oklahoman, players coached by Phil Koons said he repeatedly bullied and harassed his students, often using slurs. When the OSBI began an investigation into allegations against Koons in February, he was placed on administrative leave. Ringling reinstated Koons June 1 after the investigation was completed.
An attorney for Koons, whose behavior at prior schools has also been questioned, did not respond to a request for comment prior to publication of this article. Ringling Public School also did not respond to a request for comment.