CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids Xavier has suspended an unidentified football player from the team indefinitely because of an unspecified comment he made during a game Sept. 16 against Iowa City High at Xavier, Athletics Director Mike Winker announced in a statement Saturday.
Sportsmanship had been a hot topic last week, when rumors abounded of possible questionable behavior in that game. Officials briefly stopped action in the third quarter of City High’s 52-24 win and addressed Iowa City High Coach Dan Sabers and Xavier Coach Duane Schulte about player conduct.
Sabers and City High Athletics Director D’Anne Kroemer told The Gazette last week they were concerned with things their players told them about the conduct of some Xavier players.
“No question our guys brought up some things that were very concerning. There appeared to be some legitimacy to them,” Sabers said. “Things happen in an emotional game, I understand that.”
The coach concurred when asked if his concerns were out of the ordinary and included spitting. He was specifically asked about possible racial slurs, as had been rumored.
“Based on what I was hearing, I would say there were concerns about some racial things being said, you bet,” Sabers said.
The coach said he expressed his concerns to Schulte after the game and that he bears no “ill feeling about Xavier” and that “we’re going to move on.” Kroemer talked with Winker last week and stressed to The Gazette the allegations should not reflect on Schulte and his program.
“There are always isolated incidents with sport. Sometimes passion just brings out some unfortunate things,” Kroemer said. “You’re disappointed. It is important for us as educators to instill in our players to treat each opponent with respect.”
Winker said last week that Xavier players denied using racial slurs and stressed that the school would never tolerate such action. Then came Saturday’s announcement of the player’s suspension. Winker declined to name the individual or what specifically was said.
Referee Norm Granger (a former Iowa running back) of Waterloo, who worked the game, said he would not discuss any game with the media. Officials submit sportsmanship ratings for each game to the Iowa High School Athletic Association, but those ratings have not been made public the last few years.
The IHSAA and Mississippi Valley Conference Commissioner Randy Krejci said they had not received formal or informal complaints about the Sept. 16 game at Xavier. Protocol is for schools to handle such issues administratively.
“We’re four weeks into the football season, for instance, and there has been nothing (reported),” IHSAA Assistant Executive Director Todd Tharp said last week. “We get very, very few phone calls about that. … We are pleased with how our member schools handle sportsmanship issues.”
Metro athletics directors said they deal with few racial problems. Kennedy AD Aaron Stecker said he hasn’t experienced it as an administrator or football coach here or in Missouri.
Washington AD Paul James said he couldn’t remember the last time his school — which has a large minority population — had an incident, but football coach Tony Lombardi said his team has been the target of racial slurs during his six years at the school.
He preferred not to be specific.
“Yes, it happens,” Lombardi said. “I have taken kids off the field and settled them down so they don’t (retaliate). … To me, if it happens, it’s a 15-yard penalty, and the official should walk over to the coach and ask him to deal with it appropriately.”
Jefferson Athletics Director Scott Kibby said he is more concerned with fan-to-athlete exchanges, particularly when the fans are close, such as in basketball. He said swearing is a much bigger issue, and any athlete who gets ejected for profanity has a meeting with him.
He keeps a file on every offending athlete.