Connell High School postseason ban reversed, WIAA imposes updated sanctions

Connell High School
Image credit: North Franklin School District

CONNELL, Wash. — After imposing a postseason ban in the wake of a racist incident at Connell High School, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) has decided to allow Connell back into the playoffs while imposing a handful of new punishments.

KAPP-KVEW reached out to North Franklin School District Superintendent Jim Jacobs, who provided additional context on the situation. Following an appeal by Connell High School, the WIAA deemed two of the sanctions placed by the league illegal under Washington state law.

The WIAA cannot lawfully ban Connell High School basketball teams from the postseason, nor can it place sanctions on the school prohibiting parents from attending games. However, self-imposed sanctions from the school itself can still set limitations on who is and is not allowed at sporting events.

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Here are the sanctions that are currently being imposed by the league and the high school itself, per Superintendent Jacobs:

a. No student spectators at any athletic event for the remainder of the year
b. All coaches and student participants must take a class on implicit bias before participating in any event for the remainder of the year
c. All sporting events for the remainder of the year will be held at neutral locations and Connell will incur any costs associated with movement of the event
d. Connell athletics will be on probation for 1 year
e. All coaches, parents, and students must take a class on implicit bias before attending any sporting event in the 2021-2022 school year
f. Connell has been levied a $1000.00 fine that will be used to create and host a league wide ASB Sportsmanship summit. 
g. Connell must report the findings of the third party investigation to the WIAA when it is complete
h. Connell must brief the WIAA on their final plan for training regarding racial equity, diversity and equity training for all students, coaching staff and district staff at the August WIAA meeting.
Sanctions were placed on Connell High School following a girl’s basketball game against Zillah High School. Videos showed fans and spectators making racist noises and gestures after calling Black student-athletes ‘monkey’ repeatedly. The North Franklin School District promptly launched an investigation, which concluded in the days after this incident.
The South Central Athletic Conference (SCAC) accepted those penalties and added more, including ending Connell’s basketball seasons on June 5, moving the SCAC League wrestling event from Connell to Wapato, and not allowing any fans—including students and adults—at the high school’s games for the rest of the school year.

The school made an appeal to the WIAA Executive Committee, asking that the basketball games be allowed to continue into the postseason and to allow parents to attend the games.

To clarify, Connell High School students will not be allowed into sporting events through the end of the year, but parents are cleared to watch their children compete so long as they follow the proper guidelines.


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