By Tyler Carter
The Illinois High School Association has completed its investigation of the 2013 Class 2A Boy's Basketball State Championship game between Harrisburg High School and Seton Academy.
The results of the investigation have caused sanctions to be placed on both head coaches and the game's officials.
“This was an ugly and embarrassing incident,” said IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman in a statement. “Harrisburg High School, Seton Academy and the contest officials all share in the blame for the outcome. We also recognize that the IHSA needs to be more proactive in dealing with on-court behavior and conveying the expectations for appropriate conduct to the players, coaches and officials participating in our events.”
The IHSA was not able to confirm allegations made by Seton Academy that members of the Harrisburg team made racial slurs, but was able to report that one of the Harrisburg players made an "inappropriate comment" of non-racial nature, resulting in a technical foul.
Seton Academy Sanctions
Seton's head coach, Brandon Thomas, may have no involvement with the academy or any other IHSA school in the next two state playoffs and has been placed on probation for the 2013-14 season.
Thomas' suspension was the result of incidents that occurred during halftime and in the post-game awards ceremony.
“Coach Thomas delivered an obscenity-laced tirade in the presence of student-athletes in the tunnel following the first half,” said Hickman. “The tournament staff then attempted to bring the coaches and administrators together to change the climate of the game. Coach Thomas initially refused to participate and when he eventually appeared, his demeanor made it clear that he would not be a conduit for positive change. There is no place for that type of behavior in high school athletics and no outcome of a high school sporting event warrants it.”
Harrisburg High School Sanctions
Harrisburg's head coach, Randy Smithpeters, has been placed on probation for the next season and will be able to coach in the next two states series if he completes the National Federation of State High School Association Teaching and Modeling Behavior training program.
Smithpeters sanctions come as a result of inappropriate actions during the first half of the contest.
“Coach Smithpeters crossed the line early in the game with his actions toward the game officials,” said Hickman. “He should have been issued a technical foul during the first half for his blatant violation of coach’s box rule. His behavior set a negative tone for the players and fans and contributed to a hostile environment that only grew worse during the first half.”
Contest Officials Sanctions
The IHSA recognizes that the game's officials should have exhibited more control of the championship game earlier in the contest. Officials have been reprimanded for failure to enforce the bench conduct rule.
"We understand the officials’ train of the thought is to try and let the teams play, but all these factors came together and things boiled over in the first half before they were able to rein the game in," said Hickman.
Despite many challenges throughout the contest, Hickman did point to some positive behavior displayed by Seton players.
"First and foremost were the actions of Seton Academy senior Kamal Shasi, who despite the disappointment of the game's outcome, was instrumental in gathering his teammates to line up for the post-game handshake, in some cases physically pulling dejected teammates off the bench to participate," Hickman said. "A moment of poor judgment that led to a player's ejection should not overshadow the fact that Seton Academy's players displayed great sportsmanship during the state final games."
There has been no change in the status of the runner-up trophy. It remains at the IHSA office.