Broadcaster apologizes, cites diabetes amid backlash over racist comments toward Norman students

NORMAN, Okla. — Norman Public Schools dropped the announcer team broadcasting their high school girls’ basketball games after racist comments made on an open mic during Thursday’s pregame playing of the National Anthem.

The comments could be heard on the live stream broadcast of the 6A state quarterfinals matchup between Norman and Midwest City’s high school girl’s basketball teams.

[WARNING: The language used in the video is offensive and may not be appropriate for all readers]

In a video posted to Twitter on Friday morning, the National Federation of High School Network announcing team could be heard making “racist and hateful” comments toward the Norman High School student-athletes kneeling during the playing of the anthem.

The commentator, Matt Rowan, talked to KOCO in Oklahoma City and admitted to saying the racial slur heard in the video.

Rowan apologized but cited his low blood sugar levels as a factor in his decision making.

Norman Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Nick Migliorino said in a statement Friday that the announcing team Thursday had been contracted by the OSSAA for the state tournament.

“The OSSAA was made aware that some very offensive, inappropriate comments were made during the NFHS livestream broadcast of the quarter final state tournament basketball game between the Norman High School and Midwest City girls teams at Sapulpa High School Thursday night. On behalf of the NFHS Network and the OSSAA, we sincerely apologize that this happened at one of our events. 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. 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. We will make further comments as we finish our investigation.”

—  David Jackson, Executive Director Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association (OSSAA)

“We condemn and will not tolerate the disgusting words and attitudes of these announcers,” Migliorino said.

“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.”

The superintendent says the district will rely only on SportsTalk Media to live stream the remainder of the tournament.

“We fully support our students’ right to freedom of expression and our immediate focus is to support these girls and their coaches and families, particularly our Black students and coaching staff. 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.”

—  Norman Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Nick Migliorino

The NFHS Network released a statement Friday condemning the hate speech made by its broadcasters, and says individuals responsible “will have no relationship” with the network pending further investigation.

“We were sickened by the comments made last night at the start of the NFHS Network’s broadcast of the OSSAA girls basketball game between Norman High School and Midwest City High School. The thoughts expressed in no way represent the NFHS Network and we are outraged that they found their way into our production. The NFHS Network firmly condemns racism, hate and discrimination, and there is no room for this in high school sports or anywhere. We sincerely apologize to the students, their families and the entire community for having such ignorant comments expressed during the broadcast. We are aggressively investigating the incident and will ensure that any individuals responsible will have no relationship with the NFHS Network moving forward.”

—  NFHS Network

The comments also caught the attention of Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister who released the following statement:

“The remarks made were sickening and vile. It is critical on all of us to be clear that racism has no place in society and must never be tolerated, especially in our public schools. My heart aches for the young female athletes who were subjected to this hateful and disgusting tirade.”

—  Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister

Norman is playing again Friday in Sapulpa against Union in the Class 6A Girls State Tournament semifinals. Norman is undefeated and ranked number one in the state.

Sapulpa Public Schools condemns the vile language that was directed toward the Norman High School girls basketball team...

Posted by Sapulpa Public Schools on Friday, March 12, 2021