Basketball coach starts petition to remove fans from select events amid racism allegations

Topeka High School Basketball Coach George “Geo” Lyons has started a petition to remove fans from select sporting events. (Source: WIBW)
Published: Dec. 7, 2022 at 6:35 PM AKST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW/Gray News) - A coach in Kansas has started a petition to remove fans from select sporting events following what’s being called a racist incident.

On Tuesday, Topeka High School Basketball Coach George “Geo” Lyons started the petition to remove fans from Valley Center School District High School sports.

In the petition, Lyons detailed his team’s recent away game against Valley Center where “Employees from Valley Center High School failed to protect Topeka High from racial slurs, threats and disgusting taunts.” Lyons’ petition currently has more than 8,600 signatures.

According to Lyons, players and spectators were called “the N-word” and threatened to be lynched along with further derogatory chants.

Students from Valley Center were also reportedly seen passing around a “naked Black doll” and waving it at Topeka High School players.

Lyons said that administration and staff from Valley Center did not address any of the actions after being informed while the game was happening.

Officials with Valley Center said the school district sent an apology to Topeka Public Schools and Superintendent Tiffany Anderson.

The district said it was also made aware of a student bringing her class-issued doll to the game for an assignment. However, the administration noted that the doll was equipped with an internal recording device and was being passed around between students during the game.

On Wednesday, Valley Center administration decided to cancel classes at all of its schools in the district due to threats of violence that stemmed from the situation.

Topeka Public Schools and the Valley Center School District have since released the following joint statement:

“As both districts work in a unified manner to investigate matters related to the athletic events on Saturday, we as superintendents are both committed to ensuring a safe and respectful climate at school events.

Incidents that occurred when individuals did not conduct themselves in ways that reflect our commitment to supporting students have been handled, and there are investigations that are ongoing.

We will work together to ensure the appropriate individuals are held accountable and work together to prevent such incidents in the future.

It’s important all parties allow for investigations to occur and that we model for students ways to address adversity when it arises.

As superintendents, we are working jointly to address the issues and uncover the facts about what occurred so that inaccurate information and rumors are not circulated.

The incident that occurred is concerning and we both need community support and grace to allow us to complete the investigation.

We are continuing discussions between the principals and superintendents as we investigate the issues. We do not support or condone violence or any language or behavior that promotes violence and we both remain prepared to hold individuals accountable if threatening language or behavior is displayed disrupting the school environment.

Thank you for allowing the districts to work together to fully investigate matters and address the issues in cooperation with the athletic association.

Be assured that we both have the best interests of each other’s students and communities at heart in our conversations and decisions.”