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High School’s Title Vacated Over Tortilla Throwing

Andy Berg

The Coronado (Calif.) High School boys’ basketball team has been stripped of its Division 4-A regional title after tortillas were thrown at opponent Orange Glen High School, a largely Latino team, following the game.

The California Interscholastic Federation on Wednesday announced the title would be vacated.

“After a thorough review and analysis of the incident following the conclusion of the Division 4-A regional basketball championship game between Coronado High School and Orange Glen High School, the CIF state executive director reiterates that discriminatory and racially insensitive behaviors toward an opponent contravene the principles of education-based athletics,” reads a statement from the CIF that was reported by The Times of San Diego. “In this instance, there is no doubt the act of throwing tortillas at a predominately Latino team is unacceptable and warrants sanctions.”

Coronado has since been placed on probation through the end of 2024, and no Coronado athletic teams are allowed to host contests at the sectional, regional or state levels through the 2023 school year.

Coronado administrators, athletic director, coaches and players are also required to complete a sportsmanship workshop, which includes instruction on racial and cultural sensitivity.

“While consequences are warranted for such an egregious action as throwing tortillas at a predominantly Latino team and the sanctions below are being levied on the athletic program at Coronado High School, we must all be aware that behavior does not normally change with sanctions alone,” the CIF statement continued. “The path towards real change comes with the development of empathy for those who are on the receiving end of this type of degrading and demeaning behavior, no matter the proffered intent of that behavior.”

Coronado Unified School District superintendent Karl Mueller said last week that after reviewing audio and video accounts of the incident, no evidence has turned up requiring the school to forfeit the game.

“In the first-person accounts, audio and video that we have reviewed to date, we have seen no evidence of antagonization by the players actions or behaviors that justify forfeiting the game,” Mueller wrote in a three-page letter to the CIF. “The young men on the court played hard, fairly and earned the championship win.”

Luke Serna, a Coronado alumnus, admitted that he brought tortillas to the game, saying the tossing of tortillas is used as a celebratory action by the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at various sporting events.

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