TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - “Do your players have their green cards?”
That reported “inappropriate comment” cost one official, contracted through the Arizona Interscholastic Association, his job. He told the AIA it was meant to be a joke.
The remark was reportedly made by a referee to the coach of the Pueblo High School freshman basketball team before their game Tuesday at Walden Grove High School in Sahuarita.
Overheard by parents, posts about the remark were shared on social media outlets, including Facebook and Instagram, Tuesday night.
In a statement, Herman House, Director of Interscholastics for the Tucson Unified School District, said he was notified by the Pueblo High School Athletic Director on Wednesday morning that “a basketball official made an inappropriate and slanderous remark (‘Do your players have their green cards?’) to the Freshmen coach of Pueblo High School.”
House said he contacted the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Commissioner Officials, the AIA Executive Director and the AIA Area Commissioner regarding the alleged comment. On Wednesday afternoon, the referee was relieved of his duties.
Statement from the Arizona Interscholastic Association:
“An inappropriate comment was made by an official to a coach, that was overhead by a parent and that the official has since been dismissed by the AIA.”
The AIA would not identify the official, but said he had been a referee for the association for four years.
AIA Sports Information Director Seth Polansky told Tucson News Now the referee said he knew the coach worked for Border Patrol. However, Pueblo Athletic Director Brandon Sanders said the coach does not.
Pueblo High School Interim Principal Frank Rosthenhausler said he spoke with the basketball team before practice Wednesday about the incident. He said he was proud of the way the men acted on the court.
“They emanated character when someone lost theirs," Rosthenhausler said.
TUSD is investigating the incident.
"We strongly condemn any comments that have no place in an educational setting,” House said in the statement.