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Teaneck Basketball Coach Says Old Tappan Players Used Racial Slurs, Pulls Team Off Court

An investigation by both districts was continuing, officials in Teaneck and Old Tappan said.
An investigation by both districts was continuing, officials in Teaneck and Old Tappan said. Photo Credit: Airman 1st Class Kerelin Molina (Wikipedia/Public Domain)

While an investigation of a report that freshman basketball players at Northern Valley Regional High School at Old Tappan used racial slurs against a visiting team from Teaneck continues, some parents on both sides are wondering how it will affect their youngsters.

Coach Owen Barnes pulled his team off the court with three minutes left on Tuesday after the alleged behavior continued unchecked by referees, opposing coaches or anyone at the home school, one parent said.

Officials with the NVRHS district said Wednesday that they’d gotten no reports from their side of any slurs being heard -- by referees, staff or school officials.

However, BOE President Joseph Argenziano vowed consequences if a complete investigation finds the allegations true.The same should be done by his counterparts in Teaneck if they’re proven false, he added.

Teaneck Schools Supt. Christopher Irving said in a statement Wednesday: “In an effort to deescalate a disturbing situation that was taking place on the basketball court [Tuesday], one that was reported by our freshman head coach during the game but was not sufficiently rectified, our coach made a decision in the best interest of our student athletes to end the game early.”

Irving expressed pride in how the students responded and said officials from both schools were discussing the incident.

Parents were talking, too.

Danielle Chavis, who was sitting in the bleachers, said her 14-year-old son, who plays for the Teaneck team, came off the court visiblky shaken.

“He heard one of the kids call one of our players the ‘N’ word,” Chavis said. “When they were in a huddle, he said they called them ‘bitches’.”

Coach Barnes “said he will not tolerate kids making those kinds of comments to our kids,” she added. “He told them to go to the locker room and change their clothes. Then he approached the referees and coaches and said they allowed it to happen.

“We’ve played in many places, in predominately white towns, and have never had anything happen like that – never,” Chavis said.

On her way out of the gym, she said, she heard someone accuse Owens of pulling his team because they were losing.

“That’s not fair,” she said. “We’ve lost plenty of games in other towns and not had any issues. Why would the coach and the children make up something like that? We don’t teach our kids to give up because we’re losing.

“We’re proud that our kids handled it very well."

Chavis, 34, said she was planning to have a talk with her son about how to handle such situations.

“It’s sad I have to do that,” she said.

Meanwhile, Chavis’s father said he called the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA), which governs high school athletics in the state, and left a message for the director.

“We’re not here to make any team or school look bad. That’s not what this is about,” his daughter said. “I’m just afraid it could happen again if nothing is done about it.

“I’m not calling anyone racist. But you’re making racial comments to other kids,” she said. "I don’t think the kids understand how serious it is.

“I don’t think any kid would want to say those things to someone else. If someone made comments to them, how would they feel?”

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