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Putnam County Community Remains Stunned Over Resignation Of Basketball Coach

Kevin Downes Stepped Down At Mahopac High Following Students' Online Racist Rants
Mahopac High School (Photo: CBS 2)

Mahopac High School (Photo: CBS 2)

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MAHOPAC, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – There has been new fallout from the racist Twitter rant following a high school basketball game.

The coach Mahopac High School has resigned in protest over the way his community reacted, CBS 2’s Lou Young reported Monday.

The African-American basketball coach at predominately white Mahopac High School called it quits over the weekend, two weeks after the school became embroiled in a racial controversy following a playoff game with predominately black Mount Vernon High School.

Kevin Downes’ decision took most in the Putnam County community by surprise.

“He’s a great coach but more than that he’s a role model for the students,” Mahopac School Superintendent Thomas J. Manko said.

When the recent Section 1 tournament semifinal loss to Mount Vernon deteriorated into a series of racial insults at the game and on the Internet, Downes said it hurt him personally.

“I was kind of heartbroken over all the stuff that happened,” he said. “Not just the comments but the two hundred plus times those comments were ‘liked,’ ‘favorited,’ or retweeted.”

Most students Young talked to didn’t seem to understand his reasoning for walking away.

“I don’t think he should’ve resigned. He should’ve stayed with the team,” one student said.

Young spoke with the former coach by phone over the weekend, and he stuck by his comments, adding he just can’t coach at Mahopac anymore.

“I think what was most disappointing was not just the comments, but the lack of outrage from people,” he said.

Downes said the community didn’t get upset until it felt itself under fire.

Now he has given it something more to think about — the loss of a winning coach.

“They’ll probably assume that we’re all racists here and like stereotype us, so, yeah, it hurts,” junior Brandon Gonzalez said.

“He didn’t like the way the community responded,” junior Unique Woods said, adding when asked if he understands why Downes did what he did, “Yes.”

The school district said it will begin a search for a new basketball coach and that Downes is welcome back if he changes his mind.

So far, eight Mahopac students have been suspended for posting online racial insults and the school district said it’s formed a task force to review how diversity and tolerance are taught.

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