CAMAS, Wash. — Allegations have surfaced involving racial slurs directed at Benson High School girls basketball players during a game at Camas High School. Benson High School was the visiting team and Benson players say the racist slurs and taunting came from the Camas student section.
During a game at Camas High School on Dec. 10, Benson head coach Eric Knox called a timeout in the third quarter over what his BIPOC players were telling him.
Later he wrote, "Throughout the game, both during play and timeouts, a number of my players told me one-on-one that they were hearing individuals from the student section using the n-word to taunt our players."
Coach Knox wrote those words in a complaint to the Camas School District. The district received the complaint on Dec. 13 and responded.
"The same day, we launched an investigation led by a neutral third party and consulted with the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA)," wrote interim superintendent Doug Hood, in a letter sent to Camas High School families this past Monday.
Hood also wrote: "Racist slurs and remarks have no place in our schools or anywhere and will not be tolerated. We take these accusations very seriously and are committed to aiding a complete and thorough investigation."
It's clear from game footage that coach Knox had enough, for his players' sake. As he walked across the court, referees stopped him from approaching the Camas student section, as he said "We're not going to do this anymore."
The coach later wrote in his complaint, "Based on my team's experience in your gym Friday night, clearly, you have a lot more work to do around fundamental principles of diversity, equity and inclusion."
The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association helps support and keep sports going at Camas High School and 800 other schools in Washington. Executive director Mick Hoffman got the letter from Benson's coach, too.
“Good for him for protecting his students good for the students for trusting him to bring it forward," said Hoffman.
While WIAA is not the investigator, Hoffman is helping coordinate and watching what he considers a credible case closely.
“This is horrific, I mean it has to be addressed. So I appreciate Camas leadership addressing it and I appreciate the Benson team bringing it forward, and hopefully, we can get to a point where we're preventing and not reacting.”
In the end, Benson High School finished the game and won and coach Knox added in his letter:
"The Camas players were great; none of my players or parents heard or felt anything hostile or racial from them…"
The investigation is ongoing and neither Superintendent Hood or coach Knox from Benson was available to talk to KGW on Wednesday.
Portland Public Schools did release a statement, saying in part, "This incident is an affront to our school district's core values. We are working closely with the Camas School District who is currently investigating the incident."