Oklahoma announcer dropped after racist comments directed at girls basketball team

SAPULPA, Okla. — An online broadcasting team has been dropped from calling a high school playoff tournament after one of the announcers cursed and uttered a slur, school district officials said Friday.

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Norman Public Schools dropped the announcing team after the comments were heard on an open microphone during the playing of the national anthem, KOKI-TV reported.

Norman High School was preparing to play Midwest City in a Class 6A state quarterfinal game in Sapulpa when “The Star-Spangled Banner” began to play, the television station reported.

The broadcasters told listeners on the National Federation of High School Network stream they would return after a break.

That is when one announcer used an expletive and an epithet when he saw the Norman High players kneeling on the court, The Oklahoman reported.

Sapulpa Public Schools condemns the vile language that was directed toward the Norman High School girls basketball team...

Posted by Sapulpa Public Schools on Friday, March 12, 2021

“They’re kneeling? (Expletive) (racial slur). I hope Norman get their ass kicked. (Expletive) them. I hope they lose...

“They’re going to kneel like that? Hell no.”

Matt Rowan, the owner and operator of the streaming service OSPN, told The Oklahoman he made the comments.

“I will state that I suffer Type 1 diabetes and during the game my sugar was spiking,” Rowan said in a written statement. “While not excusing my remarks it is not unusual when my sugar spikes that I become disoriented and often say things that are not appropriate as well as hurtful. I do not believe that I would have made such horrible statements absent my sugar spiking.”

Norman Public Schools Superintendent Nick Migliorino said in a statement Friday that the announcing team Thursday had been contracted by the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association for the tournament, KOKI reported.

“We condemn and will not tolerate the disgusting words and attitudes of these announcers,” Migliorino said. “This type of hate speech has no place in our society and we are outraged that it would be directed at any human being, and particularly at our students.

“We fully support our students’ right to freedom of expression and our immediate focus is to support these girls and their coaches and families, particularly our Black students and coaching staff,” Migliorino said. “It is tragic that the hard work and skill of this team is being overshadowed by the vile, malignant words of these individuals. We will do everything in our power to support and uplift our team and everyone affected by this incident.”

The OSSA and NFHS Network each issued statements apologizing for the comments.

“While we are currently investigating the incident, this crew will not be doing any more games for the remainder of our championships,” OSSAA director David Jackson said. “This kind of behavior will never be tolerated by anyone representing the NFHS or OSSAA.”

The NFHS Networks said in a statement that it was “sickened” and “outraged” by the comments.

“We are aggressively investigating the incident and will ensure that any individuals responsible will have no relationship with the NFHS Network moving forward,” the statement said.

State public schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister also released a statement condemning the comments.

“The remarks made were sickening and vile,” Hofmeister said. “My heart aches for the young female athletes who were subjected to this hateful and disgusting tirade.”

Norman High School won its games Friday and Saturday nights to capture its second consecutive Class 6A title. The Tigers (19-0) defeated Bixby 48-37 in Tulsa, KOCO reported. Norman won the title in 2019, and the state tournament was canceled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the television station reported.