York College men's basketball season opener postponed by racial protest at F&M

York College Spartans logo
  • The York College-F&M men's basketball game was postponed on Friday night.
  • The game was not played because of a racial protest sit-in on the court.
  • Protesters were upset about photos circulating on social media.
  • The photos allegedly showed some athletes in racially offensive costumes.

The York College men's basketball season opener was postponed Friday night because of a racial protest at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster.

The Spartans and the Diplomats were scheduled to play at F&M's Mayser Gymnasium.

According to LancasterOnline, however, students staged a sit-in at the game after the national anthem and prevented the game from being played. The Lancaster website reported that the group held small handmade signs, including ones that read “My culture is not a costume,” and “Do better.”

The students said they were offended by photos circulated on social media showing five students said to be members of the men's basketball and soccer teams wearing Halloween costumes the protesters charged embodied Asian, Hispanic and African stereotypes.

Justin Kupa

Junior Justin Kupa, a member of the basketball team, apologized on the team's behalf, calling the actions of his teammates "stupid" and "ignorant." He said players were willing to meet with student leaders to discuss how to move forward.

"They need to see who they affected and what they caused," he said, to which someone shouted, "Where they at now?" Kupa responded that they were advised not to come.

The men's soccer coach, Dan Wagner, was interrupted several times as he defended his students. He asked the group to remain civil, saying his players had received death threats.

"I know these guys," he said. "And they're good people."

Margaret Hazlett, the school's vice president, said the five students are going through the student conduct process, which will determine if they will face punishment.

"There are important issues that every community is facing, every college campus. But it's with us right now at F&M," Hazlett said.

The college has previously announced it was conducting a campus climate survey until Nov. 15, hiring a director of diversity, equity and inclusion and creating a bias reporting system to be in effect for the spring 2020 semester.

Longtime men's basketball coach Glenn Robinson announced his retirement earlier in the week, saying he was retiring after 48 seasons. He said the decision wasn't health-related but "has to do with the demands of coaching."

The York-F&M game was a highly-anticipated opener between local rivals that both won more than 20 games a season ago.

Paul Saikia

Paul Saikia, York College's assistant dean for athletics and recreation, said he is hopeful that the game will eventually be played, although there is not yet a rescheduled date.

Saikia said he was "obviously disappointed" that the game was postponed, but that he had no comment on the protest. He also said an F&M official contacted him earlier in the day on Friday to apprise him of the situation at F&M.

"F&M's athletic administration has apologized," Saikia said. "Obviously, this became a much bigger issue than what they had expected when we spoke earlier in the day — I do sympathize with them for this difficult situation. As it did unfold, I am sure that (the F&M athletic staff) did the best they could. We're moving on — we have an entire, awesome season ahead of us."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.