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Oklahoma superintendent condemns announcer heard using racial slur on livestream

NFHS Network released a statement Friday that they "will ensure that any individuals responsible will have no relationship with the NFHS Network moving forward."
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Basketball

Updated at 9:56 p.m. with an additional details.

The superintendent of Norman Public Schools in Oklahoma called the use of a racial slur during a livestream of a high school girls basketball playoff game "hate speech." 

Superintendent Nick Migliorino said the person, "made racist and hateful comments targeted at our Norman High student-athletes."

The comments, made during the national anthem, included the n-word and derided one team's choice to kneel. The person also said, "I hope Norman gets their ass kicked." 

The announcers did not appear to know their mics were hot.

Matt Rowan, the owner and operator of the streaming service OSPN, told The Oklahoman he was the person who made the racially insensitive remarks. Rowan apologized Friday and blamed his use of racist language on his blood sugar levels.

“I will state that I suffer Type 1 Diabetes and during the game my sugar was spiking,” Rowan said in a statement. “While not excusing my remarks it is not unusual when my sugar spikes that I become disoriented and often say things that are not appropriate as well as hurtful. I do not believe that I would have made such horrible statements absent my sugar spiking.”

The incident took place during a Thursday night game between Norman High School and Midwest City High School during the 6A State Basketball tournament. 

The announcers, who were contracted by the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association (OSSAA) for the state tournament, according to Migliorino, were from the National Federation of State High School Associations Network.

NFHS Network, which livestreamed the game, released a statement Friday that read in part it was "aggressively investigating the incident and have immediately cut ties with the third-party production crew that was involved." 

"The NFHS Network firmly condemns racism, hate and discrimination," the statement went on to say. "We also deeply apologize to the students, their families, and the entire community for having such ignorant and hurtful comments expressed during the broadcast."

OSSAA also issued a statement Friday that said, "While we are currently investigating the incident, this crew will not be doing any more games for the remainder of our championships. This kind of behavior will never be tolerated by anyone representing the NFHS or OSSAA."

OSSAA also apologized in their statement, adding that, "State tournament playoffs are a special time for our schools, their students, and their communities, and anything that is counter-productive to education-based activities will be addressed immediately and appropriately."

The program's junior varsity coach Frankie Parks tweeted about the incident, including the video, saying, "THIS IS WHY THEY KNEEL."

"We condemn and will not tolerate the disgusting words and attitudes of these announcers," Migliorino said in a statement. "This type of hate speech has no place in our society and we are outraged that it would be directed at any human being, and particularly at our students."

Outcry over the incident continued to grow on Friday, as members of the team and school faculty spoke out on social media. 

Note: Some tweets linked below include the video containing the racist language.

State public schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister released a statement, saying the comments cannot be tolerated.

“The remarks made were sickening and vile," Hofmeister said. "My heart aches for the young female athletes who were subjected to this hateful and disgusting tirade.”

Norman High School athletic director T.D. O'Hara and its leadership teacher both tweeted out the graphic with the words "this is why we kneel." 

A number of players also tweeted in response, according to the local paper in Norman

A senior post, Chantae Embry, wrote in part "every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess. disgusting. and people want to know why we kneel. here’s a prime example of why we do it."

Junior guard Myka Perry, called the statements "Disrespectful and disgusting. This is why we kneel."

In addition, the mayor of Norman issued a statement on Twitter, saying in part that she was "livid and absolutely disgusted about the racist and hateful comments directed towards the young women on the Norman High School basketball team."

Mayor Breea Clark also called for OSSAA to end their contract with NFHS Network and said the players deserve a public apology from OSSAA and NFHS Network. 

Gerald McCoy of the Dallas Cowboys also tweeted, "See why we do it!?! They still think it’s about the flag....."

The district said it supports the players' right to freedom of expression and is focused on supporting the players and their families, the statement went on to say.

"It is tragic that the hard work and skill of this team is being overshadowed by the vile, malignant words of these individuals. We will do everything in our power to support and uplift our team and everyone affected by this incident. 

The district said it will rely on its existing partners, SportsTalk Media, to live stream the rest of the tournament. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.