IHSA Sanctions Harrisburg, Seton Academy

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By Darren Kinnard

WSIL -- Thirty-two days following the controversial Class 2A boys basketball state championship game between Harrisburg and Seton Academy, the Illinois High School Association announced the results of its investigation, which includes sanctions for both teams.

“This was an ugly and embarrassing incident,” said IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman. “Harrisburg High School, Seton Academy and the contest officials all share in the blame for the outcome."

The IHSA could not prove allegations made by Seton Academy that Harrisburg players used racial slurs during the game.

“We certainly don’t dispute what the players from Seton Academy reported they heard,” said Hickman. “However, after discussions with those on and closest to the action on the floor, we were unable to substantiate those claims. Harrisburg admits that an inappropriate comment was made by one of its players, but that it was not of a racial nature, and it was punished with a technical foul at the time it occurred.”

Both head coaches were placed on probation for the 2013-14 season as a result. Harrisburg's Randy Smithpeters will be suspended for the postseason next year, unless he completes the NFHS Teaching and Modeling Behavior training program. Seton's Brandon Thomas is banned from the postseason for the next two years.

“Coach Smithpeters crossed the line early in the game with his actions toward the game officials,” said Hickman. “He should have been issued a technical foul during the first half for his blatant violation of coach’s box rule. His behavior set a negative tone for the players and fans and contributed to a hostile environment that only grew worse during the first half.”

Thomas delivered an obscenity-laced tirade in the presence of players in the tunnel at halftime, then refused congratulations from IHSA officials and Governor Pat Quinn.

Afterwards, he tossed his 2nd place medal to an assistant before having a verbal altercation with a fan, where he had to be restrained by security and police from going into the crowd. Seton Academy refused to come back from the locker room to receive the second place trophy.

The IHSA also reprimanded the game officials, saying they lost control of the game early, but what those reprimands entail was not released.

“Officiating is a tough job and a state championship is a big stage,” said Hickman. “We understand the officials’ train of the thought is to try and let the teams play, but all these factors came together and things boiled over in the first half before they were able to rein the game in.”

Reached by phone late Wednesday afternoon, Harrisburg Superintendent Dennis Smith said, "I'm stunned that this would be released to the media without us (Harrisburg administrators) getting prior notification.

"I made our position very clear that whatever Randy did wrong at the game, the referee took care of. It shouldn't have gone any farther than that," Smith added.

"I'm very disappointed because that basketball game looked like any other game all year. He (Randy) acted like he did at every other game. In my opinion, I think the IHSA has to do something to us because they had to do something to Seton Academy. I don't think Harrisburg should receive any sanctions. This is a make-up call."
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