Members of the Norman High School Girls’ Basketball team condemned the racist comments made against them by an unaware game announcer.
“Racism is still alive and well today and just hearing those words was very heartbreaking, but we had to push that to the side. We had one goal: to win the state tournament,” said senior Chantae Embry.
“The broadcaster should be held accountable so something like this doesn’t happen in the future,” said Zya Vann, a freshman.
“What happened during the state tournament is exactly why we decided to kneel in the first place,” said junior Myka Perry. “You don’t have to agree with us kneeling, but you do have to respect it. Just how we respect people’s decision to stay standing during the anthem.”
Members was joined by civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who said the team should celebrate their success in the face of outside pressures.
Crump said, at this time, he does not plan on filing any legal action against the announcer, Matt Rowan, or the National Federation of State Highschool Associations (NFHS), the organization that managed the livestream of the tournament and hired Rowan.
“He will never work with us again,” the NFHS said in a statement Monday. The organization severed ties with Rowan and his company, OSPN, on Friday after the audio of the racist comment went viral.
“We know Mr. Rowan’s remarks have caused profound pain to the Norman High School athletes, students, their families and the community as a whole. We have started outreach to members of the school community to determine the most effective ways to be part of the solution.”
A number of school districts have severed ties with the NFHS following the incident, including Norman and Piedmont Public Schools.
Moore Public Schools terminated its contract with NFHS on Monday.
“We will not sit idly by and ‘hope change occurs’ – we have the ability to make change happen,” the district said in a message to staff.
Superintendent Robert Romines also sent a letter to the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association to request it use other providers for upcoming state competition.
The OSSAA is investigating the incident.
“This kind of behavior will never be tolerated by anyone representing the NFHS or OSSAA,” OSSAA director David Jackson said in a statement Friday. “We will make further comments as we finish our investigation.”