A college football player who was arrested Saturday for knocking a referee unconscious during a football game said the punch was accidental and hopes to apologize to the referee in person.
The visiting Mt. San Antonio College lineman Bernard Schirmer was accused of punching the unidentified side judge in the middle of the third quarter in the game against Ventura College, college police confirmed.
The referee was seen walking Schirmer back to his huddle during the game after breaking up an argument between players.
As the referee is seen ushering Schirmer along, he is punched and falls to the ground.
"I didn't even know I hit him," Schirmer said. "I didn't feel a thing."
Schirmer said he regularly punches his own helmet to regain focus, but inadvertently hit the referee during the game.
Schirmer was immediately ejected from the game and arrested on suspicion of felony battery, according to Ventura County Community College District Police Department.
He was suspended for five years, according to Jim Sartoris, commissioner for the Southern California Football Association, who says says it is protocol per the association's rules.
The school plans to appeal the suspension, Sartoris said.
The referee will not pursue charges, but Schirmer hopes to apologize to him in person.
"I would like to apologize face to face and tell him it was accident," he said. "I did not have one thought in my mind to bring harm to you. I'm truly sorry."