Credit: David Flores / Kens5.com
Lanier boys basketball coach Rudy Bernal says the ethnic taunting the Voks heard from some Cedar Park students during a playoff game March 4 should have been stopped immediately.
Monday, Mar 14 at 2:23 AM
The San Antonio Independent School District has filed a formal complaint with the UIL regarding the behavior of a group of Cedar Park High School students at a boys basketball game between Cedar Park and Lanier on March 4 in San Antonio.
Following University Interscholastic League protocol, SAISD athletic director Gil Garza filed an incident report online via the UIL website at 1 p.m. Friday, after discussing the matter with SAISD superintendent Robert Duron earlier in the day.
“Dr. Duron and I talked and we felt it was in the best interest of our school district and Lanier to file the complaint,” Garza said Friday afternoon. “We wanted the UIL to have a record of this. It’s done.”
The UIL governs all extracurricular activities in Texas public schools.
Garza, who was at the game, said he spoke with UIL interim athletic director Mark Cousins before filing the complaint.
“I wanted to let him know it was coming,” Garza said.
Rudy Bernal and SAISD officials at the Region IV-4A semifinal said a group of about 15 Cedar Park male students harassed the Voks’ players with taunts that disparaged their ethnicity and questioned their citizenship.
Cedar Park beat Lanier 45-41 at Blossom Athletic Center’s Littleton Gym, and defeated Boerne Champion in the regional final the next day to earn a trip to the state tournament.
Cedar Park and Leander Independent School District officials apologized to Lanier on Wednesday, and said in a joint statement that “the issue was immediately addressed after the game, and the school administration has taken appropriate disciplinary action.”
Bernal and Garza said the Cedar Park students chanted “USA, USA, USA,” a cheer usually heard at international competition featuring the United States.
They also chanted “Arizona, Arizona, Arizona,” a reference to the state that became ground zero for immigration reform last year when it passed a controversial immigration bill, and “This is not soccer, this is not soccer.” The latter is an apparent reference to the stereotype that Hispanics are better suited for soccer than basketball.
Cedar Park is a predominantly white school with a predominantly white boys basketball team, and Lanier is predominantly Hispanic and has an all-Hispanic basketball squad.
“The chants were insulting and degrading to our students, community and school district” Garza wrote in the incident report.
The game between the Timberwolves and Voks was played without incident but SAISD board member Tom Lopez, who attended the game, said there was tension between fans as they filed out of the gym.
Bernal said neither he nor his team had any problems with the Cedar Park players and coaches.
“I want to make that clear,” Bernal said. “The problem was not on the floor, it was in the stands.”
Bernal said Friday that filing a complaint with the UIL was the right thing to do.
"I think this stuff has been going on for a long time and it's time somebody put a stop to it," Bernal said. "Maybe the UIL can do it."
Under UIL guidelines, Cedar Park has 10 days to inform the UIL of what action it has taken to address the incident. Cedar Park also must inform the District 25-4A Executive Committee of the SAISD’s complaint.
The 25-4A committee is composed of the principals of each of the seven schools in the district. Other schools in 25-4A besides Cedar Park are Cedar Park Vista Ridge, Dripping Springs, Lake Travis, Leader Rouse, Leander Vandergrift and Marble Falls.
“The district executive committee has an array of options, including accepting the remediation action Cedar Park has taken and going with that,” Garza said. “Or it could take further action.”
UIL rules allow a district committee to impose penalties on a school for violations by fans and patrons of ethics and sportsmanship. The sanctions range from a reprimand to a forfeiture of the game.