A California high school basketball team was stripped of its regional championship title after tortillas were thrown at the opposing team of mostly Latino players.
The California Interscholastic Federation stripped Coronado High School’s title after the incident against Orange Glen High School of Escondido on June 19, KNSD reported.
Orange Glen High School’s predominantly Latino team lost the championship game 60-57 in overtime to Coronado, a largely white high school, according to CBS News. After the game, a video appeared to show some Coronado players and fans throwing tortillas at the Orange Glen athletes after several heated disputes on the basketball court, CNN reported.
“Discriminatory and racially insensitive behaviors toward an opponent contravene the principles of education-based athletics,” California Interscholastic Federation officials said in a news release. “In this instance, there is no doubt the act of throwing tortillas at a predominately Latino team is unacceptable and warrants sanctions.”
The move comes after Coronado basketball coach J.D. Laaperi was fired on June 24 by the Coronado Unified School District Board last week, KNSD reported. None of the students were held accountable for the incident, according to CBS News.
The school was also placed on probation through the 2023-24 school year and will not be allowed to host any postseason basketball games through the 2022-23 school year, according to the news release.
In a statement, Laaperi called the incident racist and said he was not aware of any planned effort to throw the tortillas.
“Unfortunately a community member brought tortillas and distributed them which was unacceptable and racist in nature,” Laaperi said the night of the game. “I do not condone this behavior. Coronado High School does not condone this behavior and is already taking appropriate action.”
Wayne McKinney, Coronado’s basketball team captain, said Laaperi had nothing to do with the incident and apologized to Orange Glen, KCBS reported.
“Throwing those tortillas at a predominantly Latino school doesn’t look good but on my end, I do not believe we intended to make it about race,” McKinney told KNSD after the June 24 meeting. “It was never about race.”
In its release announcing the title being vacated, California Interscholastic Federation officials said the consequences levied against Coronado were warranted.
“Behavior does not normally change with sanctions alone,” the federation said in its news release. “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.”
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