Coronado HS stripped of boys basketball championship after tortilla-throwing incident

·Writer
·3 min read

First, a tortilla-throwing incident cost Coronado High School its boys basketball coach. Now, it's cost the school its regional championship.

The California Interscholastic Federation announced Wednesday it had vacated the San Diego-area school's regional championship after the team's players celebrated by throwing tortillas at players from Orange Glen High School, the predominantly Latino high school it had defeated in its final game.

Additionally, the Coronado team was placed on probation through 2024 and was banned from hosting postseason games for the next two seasons. All other Coronado teams are also banned from hosting postseason games until the completion of a sportsmanship workshop (with cultural sensitivity training) by the school's administrators, coaches and student-athletes, as well as game management training by the administrators.

The final sanction is a "strong" encouragement for Coronado administrators to engage with their counterparts at Orange Glen to "begin the process of developing a positive relationship between the two school communities."

The full CIF release can be seen here:

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CIF executive director Ron Nocetti's explanation for the sanctions:

In this instance, there is no doubt the act of throwing tortillas at a predominately Latino team is unacceptable and warrants sanctions.

While consequences are warranted for such an egregious action as throwing tortillas at a predominantly Latino team and the sanctions below are being levied on the athletic program at Coronado High School, we must all be aware that behavior does not normally change with sanctions alone. The path towards real change comes with the development of empathy for those who are on the receiving end of this type of degrading and demeaning behavior, no matter the proffered intent of that behavior. Adherence to the principles of Pursuing Victory with Honor, is expected at all levels of high school athletic events and, in particular, championship contests. 

The vacating of the title comes after Coronado Unified School District superintendent Karl Mueller rejected calls to forfeit the championship despite protests against the incident, in which the races of the communities involved could not be ignored.

Tortilla incident was swiftly condemned

The incident in question occurred on June 19, when Coronado — a predominantly white, highly ranked school in the affluent San Diego resort city — defeated Orange Glen 60-57 in overtime in the Southern California division 4-A regional championship game. 

The head coaches representing the two schools, both located in the San Diego area, were seen arguing after the contentious game per the San Diego Union-Tribune, at which point a group of Coronado players started throwing tortillas provided by a community member at their opponents. That community member has since been identified.

The incident was quickly condemned by school administrators, but that didn't stop the bevy of consequences that awaited the Islanders. Coronado basketball coach JD Laaperi, who denounced the tortilla throwing on Twitter, was fired four days after the incident.

Now, the school is losing the championship some of its players celebrated in all the wrong ways.

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