The South Central Athletic Conference handed down sanctions Wednesday for Connell High School stemming from allegations of racist remarks directed toward Zillah girls basketball players at Saturday’s game.
SCAC president and Naches Valley athletic director Ty Kime said he and his fellow ADs decided by majority vote to ban Connell’s boys and girls basketball teams from competing in the league’s postseason, scheduled for June 8, 10 and 12. In addition, no Connell fans will be allowed to attend home or away competitions for the remainder of the school year.
“We are going to strive to improve sportsmanship and to engage school spirit as a league,” Kime said. “There’ll be some things we set in place for next year to further educate coaches, players and communities.”
Those sanctions come on top of Connell’s self-imposed sanctions, which included banning student fans from basketball games indefinitely. Kime said any punishments for individuals involved in the alleged incident, from which video showed racist language and offensive gestures at Zillah players, would be administered by Connell or the North Franklin School District.
Kime said the SCAC felt it needed to make a statement since these kinds of investigations can often take a long time. Connell could appeal the sanctions, although Kime said it’s unclear whether the school plans to take that action.
The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association also released a statement Wednesday affirming its commitment to prohibiting racism at high school sporting events. No specific schools or incidents were referenced by the WIAA, which Kime said has communicated with both Zillah and Connell since the incident became public.
Connell High School Athletic Director Stephen Pyeatt released a statement addressed to the Zillah community, including players, coaches and fans, on the school’s Facebook page Tuesday night. Video showed him taking a phone call and walking over to the side of the gym with the student section before sitting down to talk to someone else without addressing the crowd.
“I want to take this time to apologize for the racist actions that transpired while I was in charge of the girls basketball game on May 22, 2021,” the statement read. “I know that what happened has caused an immense amount of pain to you as a player, coach, fan, family member, and community member, and I am deeply sorry.
“You did not deserve this in any way, and no one should ever have to be subjected to what happened.”
Connell’s girls basketball team is 6-1 and in a three-way tie for first in the SCAC with Zillah and La Salle. The boys team is in fourth place with a record of 4-3.
Saturday’s incident was similar to a situation at a Moses Lake basketball game in December 2019, when Moses Lake fans were accused of using racist language directed at a Davis player and his father. The Columbia Basin Big Nine affirmed its commitment as a league to equality and against racism but declined to take any further actions during an ongoing investigation.