Accusations of inappropriate behavior in the stands during Friday’s Phoenix boys basketball game against Fairview Park are under investigation by school administrators.
During the game, Fairview’s student section allegedly made racial slurs, vulgar insults, and threats of lynching at Oberlin cheerleaders, according to community members in attendance.
The cheer squad left the court in tears during the first quarter, an Oberlin basketball player said in a Facebook post.
Fairview superintendent Bill Wagner said he spent Monday reviewing video and pictures and interviewing students, staff, parents, community members, and police who were present.
He received a video of two Oberlin female students pushing and punching students in Fairview’s cheering section. The altercation was spurred by two Fairview students who made handwritten signs that “were absolutely unacceptable and we most certainly apologize for that… however, the comments were not racially motivated or related,” Wagner said.
The signs were confiscated and the students were disciplined.
“I must confess, I cannot fathom how the allegations assert racist remarks were being made by students in our cheering section. We have two cheerleaders, two basketball players, a handful of the students in the cheering section, and a staff member who was sitting next to them who are all African-American,” said Wagner. “We asked all of them if they heard anything that would be offensive, racist, or threatening. They all indicated they did not. These kids are all friends and would not sit by and let anyone make such egregious comments to each other or to others.”
“Regardless, I made painfully clear to our administrative team that we need to eliminate any and all taunting activity that may exist in our cheering sections,” he said
He said he strongly enforces a “cheer for your team and not against the other team” rule and has no tolerance for racist or bigoted behavior.
Oberlin City Schools superintendent David Hall said it is the responsibility of the home team to establish appropriate conduct and safety boundaries for players, staff, and fans.
“(We are) currently reviewing all information to assure this cooperation was extended to our district. Oberlin City Schools do not accept any inappropriate behavior directed towards or involving our students,” he said in a statement.
Oberlin cheerleading coach Denita Tolbert-Brown could not be reached for comment.
Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.