NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A high school basketball coach has resigned in the wake of a racially charged social media controversy that broke out after Mahopac High School was defeated by Mount Vernon in the Section 1 Class AA semifinals back in February, according to a published report.
A total of eight Mahopac students were suspended over a series of tweets that appeared following the game, some of which apparently refer to the Mount Vernon players as “monkeys,” The Journal News reported.
Coach Kevin Downes, a 1989 Mahopac graduate, waited two weeks to meet with athletic director John Augusta in hopes of avoiding a rash decision, the newspaper reported.
“I did a lot of soul-searching the last two weeks and just felt like the best thing for me to do was to move on,” said Downes, “I was kind of heartbroken over all the stuff that happened — not just the comments that were made but the 200-plus times those comments were liked, favorited and retweeted (on Twitter). It was tough, and it’s been tough on my kids.”
YouTube video taken in the stands apparently shows a brief scuffle breaking out between two Mahopac and Mount Vernon adult fans.
Downes, who is black, said that the school also investigated claims that Mahopac players used slurs during or after the game but had not yet found corroborating evidence, the newspaper reported.
In the past four years Mahopac has reached at least the sectional semifinals. In 2012, the Indians made it to the Class AA finals where they faced Mt. Vernon, a team that has defeated Mahopac in three of the past four seasons.
While students were disciplined for the tweets, Downes said that he felt there was too much support for their messages. He added that the community did not appear to express outrage until the incident was brought under scrutiny by the media, The Journal News reported.
“I think what was most disappointing was not just the comments — they’re hurtful and disappointing — but the lack of outrage from people until the community was in the position of being slanted by the media to look a certain way,” he said. “I think that’s when you saw a lot of people’s outrage.”
Downes said that he does not believe that his decision will signal an end to his coaching career.
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