The Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League is calling in Connellsville administrators for the second time in two years to face allegations that the school’s boys' soccer team targeted an opponent with racial slurs.
A year ago, it was Penn Hills that made those accusations. This time, Allderdice parents are accusing Connellsville soccer players of using slurs during a Sept. 1 match.
In response, the WPIAL board voted unanimously Monday to schedule a hearing and bring together Connellsville and Allderdice “principals, athletic directors, head coaches and select soccer players in an attempt to establish what very well may have happened,” WPIAL executive director Tim O’Malley said.
The WPIAL didn’t immediately set a date and time for the hearing. It likely would be Monday or Wednesday of next week, O’Malley said.
“Obviously, our board is concerned by the fact that Connellsville’s name is (involved) again,” O’Malley said.
More than 30 Allderdice parents signed a letter attached to a Change.org petition entitled “Confront Racism in Western Pennsylvania.”
The letter says “Connellsville players goaded one Black and one Latino member of the Allderdice team with racial slurs.” It also contends that Connellsville players “utilized forms of physical touching likely intended to distract and intimidate.”
O’Malley said the WPIAL received conflicting reports.
“(There are) statements by kids from one side saying this happened and statements from kids on the other side saying it didn’t,” O’Malley said. “We’ll try to establish in a factual manner what took place and what we might be able to do in response.”
The WPIAL organized a similar hearing last September when Penn Hills accused Connellsville players of racial slurs.
After that investigation, the WPIAL board found the testimony of the Penn Hills players credible and believed it was “likely that at least some racial slurs or racially insensitive comments were directed to a Penn Hills player or players.”
The WPIAL required Connellsville to train its student-athletes regarding racial and cultural sensitivities.
Administrators at Connellsville and Allderdice attempted to resolve this year’s incident themselves, the way many disputes between member schools are handled. However, the WPIAL board decided Monday that it needed to become involved.
“The principal at Allderdice has been extremely helpful in an attempt to try to find resolution,” O’Malley said. “I think the Connellsville people are very sensitive to the fact that this is the second time they’ve danced this dance. They attempted to respond based on what was alleged. Was it adequate enough? Apparently not.”