Bookstore Basketball referee dismissed due to racially-charged comment
The annual Bookstore Basketball tournament is intended to encourage friendly competition for a common, positive cause. This environment came into question Thursday evening, as a referee was dismissed mid-game following what Holy Cross junior Kasey Schaffer called a “racial comment” directed at a player.
During a quarterfinal Bookstore Basketball game, Holy Cross junior Ja’Mare Washington, a member of the “Big Bodies” team, argued a foul called against him by the referee officiating his game. Soon after, Schaffer, a fan in attendance, witnessed an “inappropriate” interaction between Washington and the referee in question, as the referee made a comment that seemed to call Washington’s intelligence into question.
“The [referee] called a foul on [Washington], and he was frustrated by it and made a comment about how she should read the rule book or something, and then she responded to him — literally in the exact words, she said: ‘Do you even know what a book is,’” Schaffer said.
After hearing the comment from the sidelines, Schaffer said she and other fans in attendance were taken aback by the racially-charged statement toward Washington, who is black.
“ … All of our jaws just dropped, and the player was like, ‘Did you really just say that?’” she said. “The game just kept going.”
The Bookstore Basketball Commission said the statement made by the referee was inexcusable and that the referee was dismissed mid-game.
“The Bookstore Basketball and Student Activities staff take appropriateness during the tournament very seriously,” the Commission said in a statement via email. “When made aware of the incident, Bookstore volunteers immediately told Student Activities staff on duty. SAO staff spoke with the lead referee, and the referee involved was asked to leave in the middle of the game — as we would ask any player, spectator or individual present should they act or speak inappropriately.”
Holy Cross senior and “Big Bodies” captain Thomas Rowe said he made the Bookstore Basketball staff members who were present aware of the incident, although he was unable to hear the comment first-hand.
“I was the one who talked to the people that were running bookstore, just letting them know what was going on,” Rowe said. “ … Obviously [I was] defending my teammate … I went into the bookstore to get a drink, and when I came back a couple of my buddies said, ‘Yeah, [the referee is] gone now.’”
The Commission said it plans to pursue further action to reiterate its stance on appropriate conduct with its referees.
“Additionally, we plan to speak again with the lead referee regarding our expectations in an effort to ensure inappropriate behavior does not occur in the future,” it said.