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CIF appeals panel rules Coronado High will not have basketball championship title reinstated

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Posted at 5:00 PM, Nov 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-24 20:00:49-05

CORONADO, Calif. (KGTV) — After the controversial tortilla throwing incident at Coronado High over the summer, an appeals panel for the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) has decided it will not reinstate the basketball team’s 2021 Southern California Boys Basketball Division 4-A Regional Championship title.

Students at a Coronado High School boys basketball game threw tortillas at the visiting team from Orange Glen High School. After a CIF investigation into the incident, Coronado High’s basketball team’s regional basketball championship title was revoked. The team’s coach was also fired.

Coronado Unified quickly appealed the decision, but that was denied in the latest ruling. However, the CIF appeals panel did decide to remove some sanctions on the school’s other athletic programs.

Coronado High School was originally on probation for the 2021-2022, 2022-2023, and 2023- 2024 school years, but that has been modified to only include the boys basketball team, according to Coronado Unified School District. The boys basketball team must also complete a sportsmanship workshop that will include racial and cultural sensitivity training.

The CIF Sent ABC 10News the following statement after the appeals panel decision.

“In response to the decision issued by the appeals panel, the CIF continues to encourage our member school districts, member schools, and student-athletes to focus on maintaining positive inter-school relationships. Sportsmanship with honor and integrity are the CIF’s anchor principles. Now more than ever, the CIF restates for our school districts, teams, and student-athletes the need to reaffirm their commitment to upholding the tenets of Pursuing Victory with Honorsm. Respect and sportsmanship apply not only to those that compete on the field of play but to those that attend a contest or watch an event from afar. Education-based athletic competition can inspire us to perform at our best in sport and in our communities. We hope that student-athletes, teams, and communities will commit to ensuring that all future interscholastic events are played and observed in the true spirit of sportsmanship, respect, and integrity.”

The ruling came with criticism from Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey, who felt that the adult, Luke Serna, who brought the tortillas to the game should be held accountable.

“All of the facts have come out, and we now know this was not racially motivated whatsoever; at worst, it was unsportsmanlike conduct that took place several minutes after the game had already concluded after the buzzer had already sounded. So to vacate a championship that these young men won in a fairly contested game seems to be completely unfounded,” said Bailey. “This really emphasizes the lesson that you can be punished for the action of others, and that’s just fundamentally unfair, and I think it’s something we should all speak out against.”

A different reaction came from the parents of Orange Glen basketball players.

“It’s time for Coronado High School parents to stop trying to appeal the CIF ruling and to let this be a life-long lesson for their kids, that there may be consequences if you don’t stop and think before saying or doing something that is hurtful to others,” said Andres Rivera whose son plays for Orange Glen.

Another parent, Mickey Chew, said the incident was racist and unsportsmanlike, and the CIF appeals panel made the right decision.

“For anybody to deny that was a racist act when it was tortillas thrown at a predominately Latino team, it’s absolutely ridiculous. Our whole goal in getting the word out was simply to hold Coronado accountable, so this wouldn’t happen again to other kids,” said Chew. “I just want the punishment to be as stiff as possible so that other schools don’t think that their kids can get away with this as well.”