FAIRFIELD — Officials with the Fairfield Community School District and Iowa High School Athletic Association are looking into allegations of a racially-charged comment made by an official towards an Iowa City High coach in a varsity boys basketball game that ended with an altercation between players Monday.
With just over two minutes left in the contest, and Fairfield leading 77-63, players were involved in a scuffle where a punch was thrown after a foul call, a video of the altercation posted on social media shows. Video of the game is no longer posted on the school district's YouTube account. Coaches from both teams rushed onto the court to break up the scuffle.
In a statement posted by the Fairfield Community School District, coaches, officials and administrators were required to safely intervene in the altercation. Both teams were escorted to their locker rooms for a five-minute intermission, during which time Iowa City High coaches determined it was best to forfeit the game.
According to the Southeast Iowa Union, tensions during the game began to rise during the contest. Iowa City High's head coach was ejected early in the fourth quarter, leading to City Hawk fans berating the referees. A statement from the Iowa City High School District alleged one of the game officials had made a racially-charged comment toward the City High Boys Basketball head coach Brennan Swayzer, who is Black.
"The Iowa City Community School District never condones racism. We stand by our students and staff of color," the district’s statement said. "We are also addressing an incident of physical aggression and helping our students learn better ways to handle a volatile situation."
The claim has been denied by the Iowa City Athletic Officials Association, who did not identify the officials who worked Monday's game other than to say they were members of the organization.
"The officials involved categorically deny making any such statements," the organization's statement read. "In fact, it's completely out of character for all of them, and they are shocked and hurt by the accusation."
The Iowa City school district said in the statement it opted to end the game out of safety concerns, and that the team received a police escort from the gymnasium and out of town.
Chris Cuellar, a spokesperson for the Iowa High School Athletic Association, said information about the incident is still being gathered.
“We are still gathering information on the game from both Fairfield and Iowa City High and the game officials,” he said. “As always, we will continue communicating with those involved to learn more about the situation and will work with our member schools to facilitate resolutions.”
In a new statement released Wednesday signed by Fairfield Superintendent Laurie Noll, Fairfield High School Principal Aiddy Phomvisay and Fairfield Athletic Director Jeff Courtright, the officials said the atmosphere was charged but the incident was able to be de-escalated by Fairfield school officials.
"We commend the Fairfield and City High student bodies, athletes, coaches, and staff for demonstrating both of our community values of inclusion, safety, and respect during the game and subsequent events following the game," the district's statement said. "Despite a charged atmosphere that included the ejections of a coach, spectator, and a player altercation, Fairfield and City High students and fans followed instructions avoiding additional interactions. Fairfield and City High administrators and staff took great care to de-escalate the situation."
The Cedar Rapids Gazette reported that Swayzer and the City High player involved in the on-court altercation Monday were not at City High's game Tuesday against Linn-Mar.