Racial taunts and slurs continue to mar sporting events at all levels.
Officials from Richmond Public School and Central High School in Virginia are working with community leaders to investigate reports of a racially charged incident that occurred over the weekend at a basketball game in Shenandoah County between Central and Armstrong High School.
During the Region 3B championship game, student-athletes from Armstrong say they “experienced a reported encounter with students from another school district during which derogatory language was directed towards them,” according to Richmond school officials.
As reported by WHSV/WWBT, Central principal Lori Swortzel says a Confederate flag was briefly displayed before the start of the game and administrators “intervened promptly and confiscated the flag." Then, with 2 minutes and 30 seconds left in the game, a report of a student making gestures toward Armstrong cheerleaders was brought to Central's athletic director, according to Swortzel.
The principal says the situation was immediately addressed and some disciplinary actions have already been taken. She claims other reports from the game that Armstrong athletes and fans have mentioned were not communicated with Central staff by Armstrong staff.
In a statement, Richmond Public Schools says they are taking the matter very seriously and are in communication with the other district “to ensure that we have a complete and accurate account of the events so that it can be addressed through the appropriate venues.”
Central's statement from Swortzel reads:
We take any and all allegations very seriously in accordance with our local School Board policies, Student Code of Conduct, and Virginia High School League (VHSL) Rules.
On Saturday evening, Central High School (CHS) in Woodstock, Virginia played Armstrong High School in Richmond, Virginia in a boys basketball Region 3B championship game at CHS. From Central, three administrators, the Athletic Director (AD), assistant AD, and three school resource officers from the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Department were present at the game. A concern was brought to the AD with 2:30 left in the game that a student was making hand gestures towards their cheerleaders. This was addressed immediately by school administrators.
Though not made aware by Armstrong officials, the administration also noticed a confederate flag being displayed very briefly before the start of the game. They intervened promptly and confiscated the flag since any taunting is explicitly prohibited.
After the game when the Armstrong team returned home, chat rooms and social media were used by Richmond school employees to communicate issues about which they had not made Central staff aware of during the game. Lori Swortzel, CHS Principal also reached out to the school principal, Dr. Bell, via email and phone call to seek specificity about the allegations, but no communication was returned until 9:51 am on Wednesday, March 4, 2020, nearly four days
after the incident. By this time, CHS school officials were already engaged in an extensive investigation to the extent they were able given the lack of specificity about the allegations.
Some disciplinary actions have already been administered by the Principal at CHS.
Meanwhile, a video emerged since Tuesday's University of Kentucky game at Rupp Arena in which a University of Tennessee fan can be heard laughing and asking a woman dressed in Kentucky gear why she was leaving. The UK fan then responds with a racial slur.
UK athletic director Mitch Barnhart said in a series of posts on Twitter that there will be consequences for this fan. He did not give any specifics on what the consequences could be, according to CBS affiliate WKYT in Lexington.
"That's not who we are as an athletics department," he said in a tweet.
Barnhart said the woman in the video is not a season-ticket holder. He also said there are ways to make sure this does not happen again.