Arizona high school basketball coaches investigated for racial bias against African American players

Arizona high school basketball coaches investigated for racial bias against African American players

Boys Basketball

Arizona high school basketball coaches investigated for racial bias against African American players

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An Arizona high school varsity boys basketball head coach and an assistant coach were accused of racism against African American athletes and favoring white players on the team, according to the Phoenix New Times.

Arcadia High School (Phoenix) head coach Stephen Danford was accused by assistant coach and parent Brian Ali of treating his players differently based on race.

Examples Ali cited included Danford screaming “Cut your (expletive) hair!” to a black athlete while asking white players in private to do the same; favoring white athletes when giving playing time; and telling the black students who were sagging their pants that “This isn’t Compton … This is Arcadia.”

Ali reached out to the Scottsdale Unified School District after the season ended in February to report “years of racist comments and differential treatment on the basis of race” from Danford and assistant coach Phillip Lozevski, the Phoenix New Times wrote.

A two-page report from the school district was released May 24.

It stated any perceived racism was not intentional, according to the Phoenix New Times, stating there was “no ‘direct evidence’ of bias, such as racial slurs.”

The report did say “It is evident that there was at least a perception of disparate treatment and reports of a hostile environment based on race experienced by African American student players.”

It also stated “there may have been an underlying unconscious bias or racial insensitivity in the basketball program.”

The report recommended counseling and diversity training for Danford and Lozevski

Students were still being interviewed for the report as of May 30, according to the Phoenix New Times.

Ali called the findings “a joke.”

He was the freshman head coach two seasons ago and an assistant varsity coach for part of last season. His son played for the team in the past. Ali said Danford would favor white players and coach them differently than their black counterparts.

White players were encouraged to shoot and dribble more and received most of the playing time, Ali said, and it was like “pulling teeth” to get more time for the black players. Ali said they were discouraged from shooting and dribbling as much as the white peers.

Ali said some black players would approach him, who is African American, and ask why the coaches weren’t giving them a chance.

The report stated that evidence did not support the claim that white players got more playing time.

Danford fired Ali as an assistant coach on Jan. 22 by email, which was shared by Ali with the Phoenix New Times. The email stated  “I take it by your absence from practice and lack of communication … that you have decided to move on in [a] different direction, which I think is the best from every one [sic] involved at this point.

Ali told the Phoenix New Times there was a miscommunication about whether practice would occur and it was the first one he had missed.

Danford declined comment to the outlet.

At one point when his son was on the team, Ali told Danford the kid was being pushed too hard. Danford said Lozevski was “trying to break him,” according to the report.

The report called this an offensive comment “evoking images of breaking slaves or chattel,” but added that Danford “did not understand how that comment might be taken by an African American.”

Danford has been the head coach at Arcadia for six years, according to the East Valley Tribune, and was an assistant coach at the school from 2007-2010.

Ali thinks Danford should be fired, according to the Phoenix New Times.

He said to the outlet that the district told him the report was not final.

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Arizona high school basketball coaches investigated for racial bias against African American players
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