The IHSA has announced the sanctions resulting from its investigation into the 2013 Class 2A Boys Basketball State Championship game between Harrisburg and (South Holland) Seton Academy.
"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.
"We also recognize that the IHSA needs to be more proactive in dealing with on-court behavior and conveying the expectations for appropriate conduct to the players, coaches and officials participating in our events."
During the investigation, the IHSA was unable to corroborate allegations made by Seton Academy that members of the Harrisburg team used racial slurs during the championship 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."
The following penalties have been announced as a result of the investigation:
Head coach Randy Smithpeters may have no involvement (team contact, coaching, attending games) with Harrisburg or any other IHSA member school during postseason State Series contests (regionals, sectionals, super-sectionals, state finals) in 2013-14, unless he first successfully completes the NFHS Teaching and Modeling Behavior training program.
He also has been placed on probation for the 2013-14 school year.
In addition to the sanctions implemented by the school, Seton Academy head coach Brandon Thomas may have no involvement (team contact, coaching, attending games) at Seton Academy or any other IHSA member school during postseason state series basketball contests in 2013-14 and 2014-15.
Thomas also has been placed on probation for the 2013-14 school year.
The contest officials have been reprimanded for failure to enforce the bench conduct rule during the championship game.
Thomas' suspension comes as a result of incidents that occurred at halftime and in the postgame awards ceremony, when the coach bypassed offers of congratulations from the IHSA Board of Directors and the Governor of Illinois. He then threw his medal to an assistant coach and exited the court, where he engaged in a verbal altercation with a fan and had to be restrained from entering the stands by security and police.
"Coach Thomas delivered an obscenity laced tirade in the presence of student-athletes in the tunnel following the first half," said Hickman. "The tournament staff then attempted to bring the coaches and administrators together to change the climate of the game. Coach Thomas initially refused to participate and when he eventually appeared, his demeanor made it clear that he would not be a conduit for positive change. There is no place for that type of behavior in high school athletics and no outcome of a high school sporting event warrants it."
The Harrisburg sanctions come as a result of the actions by Smithpeters, especially during the first half of the contest.
"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."
Hickman also addressed the first quarter technical foul on the Harrisburg player. "The Harrisburg player had to be restrained by teammates initially and it was clear that the player was still emotionally charged after the technical foul, yet he remained in the contest. I don't know if I have ever seen that before in a high school basketball game. In my mind, the inaction by the coach contributed to the negative environment of the game."
While the coaches and players are fully responsible for their actions, the IHSA also recognizes that the game officials should have exhibited more control early in the contest.
The IHSA also said there has been no change in the status of the runner-up trophy. It remains at the IHSA office.