A California high school has been stripped of its boys’ basketball title after at least two players threw tortillas at their Latino opponents following victory in the championship decider.
Members of Coronado High School’s basketball team were filmed hurling the flatbreads at players from Orange Glen High School after securing the regional championship on June 19.
At least one fan also joined in the tortilla tossing at the game in Coronado, a San Diego suburb.
“There is no doubt the act of throwing tortillas at a predominately Latino team is unacceptable and warrants sanctions,” the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) said in a statement Wednesday.
Coronado High School is majority-white, while over 80% of Orange Glen students are Latino, according to national education statistics.
The ruling means that the regional title will be vacated despite Coronado’s narrow 60-57 victory on the court.
Coronado High has also been banned from hosting post-season boys basketball games for the next two years, and the program will be on probation for the next three seasons, the CIF statement said.
The school is considering whether to appeal the sanctions, which include the mandatory completion of a “sportsmanship workshop” by staff and students.
“Whatever actions we take to address this matter, this incident and the CIF decision have served as clear reminders of the importance of sportsmanship and respectful conduct toward one another,” Coronado Unified Superintendent Karl Mueller said in a statement reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune.
In the aftermath of the game, the district school board voted to fire boys basketball coach J.D. Laaperi, who publicly denounced the incident as “unacceptable and racist in nature.”
A Coronado alumus and local resident who handed out bags of tortillas to Coronado students at the game apologized last week for his role in the post-match meltdown.
“I realize the tortilla throwing has been perceived as racially insensitive,” Luke Serna, who is half-Mexican and a registered Democrat, wrote in a statement, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
“I do not condone racially insensitive behavior, and that was not my intent. I apologize to all who were hurt by this and hope it can be a teaching moment for us all to become more conscious.”
District leaders described the atmosphere at the title-deciding contest as a “powder keg,” according to local NBC affiliate KNSD.
Administrators criticized the “inappropriate” behavior of adults and students on both sides during the game, before the unfilled tortillas became airborne.