Kevin Downes, a popular basketball coach at Mahopac Highschool, has resigned after Mahopac students tweeted racial slurs against the opposing Mount Vernon team. Downes, who is black, explained to lohud that it is not just the racist tweets that have prompted his resignation, but the community’s lackluster response.
“I think what was most disappointing was not just the comments — they’re hurtful and disappointing — but the lack of outrage from people until the community was in the position of being slanted by the media to look a certain way,” Kevin Downes said. “I think that’s when you saw a lot of people’s outrage.”
News 12 Hudson Valley reposted some of the racist tweets with the last names of the students removed:
Michael: “One of the very few biological Mount Vernon fathers just tried to sell me crack outside the County Center.”
Ryan: “That’s why you shouldn’t let monkeys out of their cages #mountvernonzoo.”
Mike: “Tough loss boys, but at least we can talk to our dads about.”
8 Mahopac students have now been suspended for the tweets, none of them players on the team. Mahopac Highschool has been taking the scandal seriously, conducting interviews to investigate reports of racial slurs used during the game, but so far no evidence has been found to support these allegations. As for the students who tweeted racial slurs, Superintendent Thomas Manko promised News 12 that “They have been suspended from school. They’ll lose privileges for participating in activities for a long time to come.” The suspended students will also undergo sensitivity training when their suspension ends.
Manko has offered apologies to Mount Vernon officials and hopes that both districts can use the incident as a teaching opportunity.
Downes graduated from Mahopac Highschool in 1989 and told lohod that the culture of the school has improved since the 80s and that racism has not been prevalent during his tenure. Downes added, “I just felt like it would be hard to go back and feel like I was 100 percent supported.”
While Mahopac Highschool is handling the situation admirably, Kevin Downes is still disappointed in the popularity of the racist tweets on twitter:
“I was kind of heartbroken over all the stuff that happened — not just the comments that were made but the 200-plus times those comments were liked, favorited and retweeted (on Twitter). It was tough, and it’s been tough on my kids.”
When asked by News 12 if he would continue coaching, Downes replied, “I don’t think my coaching career is over, at least I hope not. But if it is, I’m proud of what we were able to do. I think, in the future, if an opportunity came up, I certainly would like to be able to coach again.”
Related News: Oberlin Racism Controversy Prompts Lena Dunham Tweets