A girls' basketball coach in Idaho is accusing the local tribal leader of “character assassination” for claiming that her players used racial taunts during a tournament game.

Paula Tucker, coach of the Salmon River High School girls basketball team has responded to allegations that her players racially taunted members of the Shoshone-Bannock Junior-Senior High School girls basketball team during the semifinal game of the 1A Division II state tournament. 

“I find it inconceivable that my players had to suffer through physical and verbal abuse during and after the game and now are being attacked and demonized with unsubstantiated allegations, weeks after the game,” Tucker said in a statement that was published by the Idaho State Journal. “If the allegations of racial taunting by Salmon River players are true why haven’t we heard from the Sho-Ban coach, athletic director, principal or superintendent?”

Shoshone-Bannock School District have not yet publicly commented on the alleged taunting, but council secretary Donna Thompson sent a letter to the Salmon River School Distrcit alleging that the Shoshone-Bannock Lady Chiefs players and fans were subject to racial taunts from Salmon River players, fans and parents as well as the referees officiating the game.

Thompson claims that players from her school were told to “go back to the reservation where they belong.”

While Thompson asked that her letter be considered an official complaint, a member of the Shoshone-Bannock school board would need to report the incident to initiate an investigation.

Tucker said she has done some research of her own, noting that she has contacted parents, players, referees and reporters that attended the game to see if they heard her players taunting the Shoshone-Bannock team.

“So far, absolutely nothing (in terms of proof) has been presented,” Tucker said. “Until someone offers up documentation, rather than hearsay, that the Salmon River girls’ basketball players taunted anyone, racially or otherwise, I will err on the side of innocent until proven guilty.”

Andy Berg is Executive Editor of Athletic Business.