Summit Academy coach alleges racial bias during road to basketball championship

Posted at 7:52 PM, Feb 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-29 21:52:18-05

SALT LAKE CITY – Summit Academy’s Boys basketball team won their first state title, but the victory is being overshadowed by claims of racial bias.

Head Coach Evric Gray said his team has endured taunting all season long. They’ve complained to state high school athletic leaders, but feel like their concerns have fallen on deaf ears.

Summit Academy won their first 2A state basketball championship. They defeated a tough Layton Christian Academy team 64-63 in Richfield on Saturday.

“The crazy part is we haven’t really been able to celebrate this victory because it’s been mentally stressful,” Gray said.

Gray said his players were the target of racial slurs by fans and coaches from the opposing team at Friday night’s game against Emery High School.

“That’s where it went left with their fans yelling, ‘USA and it’s plain as day,’” Gray said.

“That was a little concerning especially when it led to an episode later that night,” said Tiffany Velez, a parent of a Summit Academy basketball player.

Gray said players were confronted by Emery fans at a convenience store.

“Two vehicles came up to them and said, ‘hey, go back to where ever you came from. You N word, you’re not worth anything,’” Gray said.

He called police and filed a report.

“Not everyone in Richfield are bad people but it shouldn’t be at a state tournament that we have issues like this,” Gray said.

Earlier this year, Gray and other minority coaches complained to the Utah High School Activities Association about bias behavior from fans and referees.

Mark Van Wagoner, counsel for the Utah High School Activities Association, said they haven’t spoken with Summit Academy administrators yet, but will investigate if warranted.

“The association abhors discounts, condemns, opposes any kind of racism in any forms in all of its forms, not just in schools but anywhere,” Van Wagoner said.

Gray said he will talk to UHSAA leaders. He understands they are spread thin, but worries if they don’t address the issue soon, someone could get hurt.