Suspended Mahopac Hoops Player Hires Noted Civil Rights Attorney
Well, I hope I’m not blowing this out of proportion, but it is my job to report the local sports and inject some opinion in this here section of the Examiner, so don’t go killing the messenger when Mahopac, and now neighboring Carmel, is front and center on the pages of local tabloids again, making the rounds with the TV news media in the days ahead because this whole racial deal is about to blow, again, my friends.
Mahopac Central School District Superintendent Dr. Brian Monahan suspended a Mahopac basketball player back on January 26th for unsportsmanlike violations unbecoming of a student athlete, most notably an elbow the player tossed in the direction of a rival Carmel player back on January 7th. The white senior player, originally accused of having levied a racial slur in the same game at the black Carmel freshman, was suspended from all athletic activities by the Mahopac administration for the remainder of the school year; three weeks and five games after the alleged incident took place. This, despite the fact that neither district put forth any concrete proof of any racial incident, other than the “he said, he said” stuff that came out of Carmel’s camp.
According to the father of the suspended player, Mahopac school administrators have linked the alleged racial slur with the elbowing incident that involved the same two players, which went undetected by game officials in the game but was later reviewed and spotted on film. The parents of the alleged wrongdoer have now retained prominent Civil Rights Attorney Michael Sussman to fight the fight to have their son immediately reinstated, but more importantly have his name cleared.
“We’re ready to take this to the national media,” the father of the suspended player stated Sunday. “My kid is being thrown under the bus. Nobody in the school administration has his back despite nothing racial ever being said or proven.”
The parents of the player believe the Mahopac School District is caving in under the pressure of the racial tweets that went down last March after an ugly incident with Mahopac and Mount Vernon fans at the Westchester County Center. As many as eight white Mahopac students were suspended for tweeting anti-black slurs that were “retweeted” and “favorited” by scores of students after a hard-fought loss to Mount Vernon, whose adult fan base taunted the raucous Mahopac Maniacs, the student fan base as vocal as any in New York at the time. You’ll recall Twitter going berserk and former Mahopac Coach Kevin Downes – an African American – resigning over the outrage in his broken heart.
Monahan said last Monday that the player is suspended due to unsportsmanlike behavior he exhibited during the game but that the district’s investigation could not prove that any racist language was used.
“The investigation has concluded and we did not determine that any racial language was used that we could document,” Monahan said. “That doesn’t mean it didn’t take place. We identified several instances of unsportsmanlike behavior by looking at the tape of the game as well as from several interviews conducted with people from both Mahopac and Carmel.”
The parents of the suspended player said the district yielded to outside political influences and wondered now if every game would be reviewed for unsportsmanlike behavior or just this one.
“No racial comments, so this is nothing more than appeasement due to political pressure,” said the father of the suspended player.
Enter Sussman, who began handling suits for the NAACP back in 1981. In 2006, Sussman handled and won the case for reinstatement of a Warwick High School football player when U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Robinson found fault with the way that the Warwick School District handled John Sala’s appeal of his suspension from the football team.
He was suspended after police found him and two teammates with beer and a small amount of marijuana during a house party. He got into an argument with the athletic director and was then booted from the team but later reinstated after Sussman’s defense.
Sussman continued to raise his profile as an activist while reeling off a string of victories in cases involving local school districts that suspended students in violation of their Constitutional rights to due process.
Saddle up, Mahopac: The Dog and Pony Show is about to commence, unless the district can come to some sort of compromise: Perhaps reinstating the student for spring sports would be a good starting point. That might send everyone home happy, including the news vans that might soon invade otherwise. But what do I know?