IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - Iowa City High principal John Bacon said a game official directed a “racially-charged comment” at a City High boys basketball coach during a basketball game Monday night at Fairfield High School.
The Iowa City Athletic Officials Association has denied such comments.
According to an email from City High Principal John Bacon, the City High coaches took the players off the floor, and received a police escort to the locker room, bus, and out of town. This happened at a game between Fairfield and City High on Monday night, which Fairfield won 77-63.
Explore Southeast Iowa, City High head coach Brennan Swayzer was ejected from the game in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, a City High player shoved a Fairfield player, causing a bench-clearing scrum.
Dear City High Families, Students, and Staff,
We want to share details about an unfortunate incident that occurred at last night’s boys’ basketball game in Fairfield.
During the game, an official directed a racially-charged comment toward our coach. The Iowa City Community School District never condones racism. We stand by our students and staff of color. We are also addressing an incident of physical aggression and helping our students learn better ways to handle a volatile situation.
Due to the unsafe environment within the gym, our coaches decided to remove our student-athletes. Our team received a police escort to the locker room, out to the bus, and out of town.
While this is certainly not how we wanted this game to play out, we are thankful that the situation was de-escalated and we could safely leave the school. If you have concerns or are in need of support, please know that we are here to help. If your child would like to speak with a school counselor, please contact the school.
City High School
The Iowa City Athletic Officials Association says no such comment occurred. In a statement to TV9, the ICAOA said:
The Iowa City Athletic Officials Association has had a long existing relationship with City High and the Iowa City Community School District going back to the founding of our organization in 1970, providing football, basketball, baseball and softball officials.
The officials at the Fairfield vs. City High boys basketball game last night are ICAOA members.
It's concerning that the school district would put out a statement accusing the on-court officials of making racially charged comments without first speaking to the officials or the association. Accusations like this deserve to be fully investigated by the appropriate governing bodies and we welcome such an investigation and our members will fully cooperate.
We have spoken to the officials involved and they categorically deny making any such statements. In fact, it’s completely out of character for all of them, and they are shocked and hurt by the accusation.
The Fairfield Community School District also issued a statement confirming that the City High team took a police escort out of the gym and out of town.
In light of some of the publicity and inaccurate reports about the gym environment and police involvement at the Fairfield vs. Iowa City, City High Boys Varsity Basketball game on Monday, January 23, 2023, FCSD is compelled to provide clarification that demonstrates our community values and the happenings that lead to the end of the game.
FCSD supports a safe environment for all, including our competitors. We commend the Fairfield and City High student bodies, athletes, coaches, and staff for demonstrating both of our community values of inclusion, safety, and respect during the game and subsequent events following the game. Despite a charged atmosphere that included the ejections of a coach, spectator, and a player altercation, Fairfield and City High students and fans followed instructions avoiding additional interactions. Fairfield and City High administrators and staff took great care to de-escalate the situation.
FCSD is aware that Iowa City, City High School administration has contacted the Iowa High School Athletic Association regarding allegations surrounding the communication between game officials and the City High basketball coaches. FCSD is willing to provide any information that might be able to assist in an investigation.
After the altercation involving players, Fairfield administrators decided that the teams should take a 5-minute break in the locker rooms to allow the coaches time to regroup and calm the players. Fairfield administrators safely escorted City High coaches and players to a locker room. At this time, the City High coaches and administration decided it would be best to forfeit the game. Following the decision to forfeit, FHS administration safely escorted City High coaches and players from the locker room to their bus.
Fairfield police were called at the end of the game to support the safety of all individuals. The police did not enter the building during this event. Fairfield Police stayed at the high school and were present when the City High team was boarding the bus, and an Iowa State Patrol trooper offered to follow the bus out of town and did so without incident.
Executive Director Tom Keating says the IHSAA is aware of the incident, but is waiting for the schools to finish their investigations before deciding if it wants to get involved.
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