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02-16-09, 07:56 PM #1
Mullen Principal Addresses Basketball Game Taunts
DENVER (CBS4) ― A group of Mullen High School students who shouted a racial slur at an opposing high school basketball player will be attending a meeting on Tuesday to talk about what happened.
At the Feb. 11 game in Denver between Mullen and Overland High School a group of Mullen football players and other students chanted "Buckwheat" from the stands when one of Overland's African-American players stepped to the foul line.
Greg Gotchey, principal of the private Catholic school, was at the game and told CBS4 he tried to stop the chant when he first heard it near the start of the game.
"I went over and asked them to stop," he said of his efforts in the first quarter.
One student claimed they were just teasing a player about his big hairstyle and not his skin tone.
The taunts returned in the fourth quarter, and Gotchey said he was very surprised.
"I couldn't imagine our kids saying something like that, but they did," Gotchey said.
An Overland parent who is an African American emailed other parents of the Aurora school to say the incident "shook me to the core." That person described the taunting as a "despicable act."
Gotchey threatened the students with suspension and said he expects those students to write a formal letter of apology. They will be meeting with Overland's athletic director on Tuesday.
"I am confident that they are sorry and they will apologize in a more formal tone than what has been done so far," Gotchey said.
On Friday Gotchey held an all-school assembly about the matter. Senior Gavin Fisher said Gotchey's words made an impression.
"He went here. He knows what Mullen is all about and this just needs to be stopped now," Fisher said.
Gotchey said he reminded the students of Mullen's core values and called for respect for all people.
"We don't get to choose when that respect happens -- it happens 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And unfortunately for a handful of our kids it doesn't appear to be that way," he said.
Donna Marshall, one of the Overland parents, told the Denver Post she was proud of how the players behaved in light of what happened. Overland wound up winning the game.
The Colorado High School Activities Association is looking into the incident.
At Mullen on Sunday, several students told CBS4 they were sickened by the incident.
"This definitely broke our school apart a little bit, from the inside and that hurts a little bit because this isn't what Mullen's about," senior Lindsey Walker said.
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