Arizona Wildcats

May 30, 2013 7:28 PM by Matthew Schwartz

UA coach charged with assaulting student

TUCSON - Brandon Santa Cruz says his dream job has been ruined by a University of Arizona strength and conditioning coach who allegedly assaulted him.

Santa Cruz worked for three years as a student assistant in the Wildcats football program. He told us, "Just being around there, I really love football so it was, how can I put it? It was my dream job."

Santa Cruz, a 21-year-old rising senior, is part of a loyal UA family. His parents were Wildcats, his mother is an alum, his sister's a current student. As a student assistant, Santa Cruz was a jack-of-all trades for coaches.

"I've been with that program for three years, and I loved every day I was there," He said.

Following Arizona's brutal home loss to rival Arizona State last November, Santa Cruz was walking near the north end zone when the incident happened.

Frank Davis, a first-year assistant strength and conditioning coach, repeatedly asked him what was in the post-game meal boxes. Santa Cruz, who's five-eight and 200 pounds, says he told the six-four, 300 pound coach and former NFL lineman he didn't know, and to stop badgering him.

Santa Cruz said, "A few seconds pass and then someone punches me in the chest. And so I stumbled backwards and I turn to go see who it was and it was Frank. And then Frank picks me up and throws me over. There was, like, water bottles and stuff behind me. [He]throws me over them and I stumbled down to the floor. So at that point I laid there and I didn't know what to do."

Santa Cruz says the body slam left him with a bruised sternum and a clothing burn mark on his neck.

The News 4 Tucson Investigators have learned that coach Davis has been charged with criminal assault by the UA police department. Davis has been suspended with pay since shortly after the incident. Santa Cruz says he didn't press charges until recently because he hoped the athletic department would either fire Davis or suspend him without pay. But a source close to the investigation says the University can't do either until the legal process plays out.

Mike Storie is Coach Davis' attorney. He declined to allow Davis to talk to us. But Storie said, "There might have been touching. Was there a strike or something that amounted to an assault? I don't think so. It's now taken on an element of trying to seek money."

Santa Cruz's attorney has filed a claim against UA, which gives the University six months to respond. UA Athletics Director Greg Byrne declined an on-camera interview.

"The matter with Frank Davis is a personnel issue and we may not comment, other than to say we have followed the guidelines and procedures of the University of Arizona," he said.

Davis' attorney, Storie, added, "He has not been permitted to return to work. And that's been upsetting to him."

Santa Cruz said, "I just want the university to do what's right. And I don't want it to get swept under the carpet."

Santa Cruz says he felt so uncomfortable in the football program that he transferred to events management. And he's upset that coach Davis is still getting paid.

I don't think that was right at all. You go to any job across America, 9 to 5, you put your hands on someone else, you're leaving that day. And you're either getting counseled or you're getting fired.

A source told us that Coach Davis' contract will not be renewed when it expires on June 30th.

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