THE CHARGE is serious and Veronica Joyner is prepared to make it.
Joyner, the founder and chief administrative officer of Math, Civics and Sciences Charter High, said her school’s players, coaches and fans were subjected to racial discrimination last week during a PIAA Class A basketball playoff game.
Furthermore, Joyner said she has found, in speaking with others, that Philadelphia schools routinely “see a lot of discrimination, and cheating/biased referees, when they travel into predominantly white areas.”
Joyner, a member of the NAACP’s Philadelphia chapter executive board, said she is continuing to gather support for her allegations and intends to push the issue “as hard as possible” with the help of that organization.
In a second-round game last Tuesday, played at Coatesville, MC&S was thumped by Reading Central Catholic, 83-53, and received as many as seven technical fouls, according to eyewitnesses contacted by the Daily News.
The game was halted with 13.9 seconds remaining when Kwahmere Gredic, the Mighty Elephants’ point guard and senior captain, whipped the ball high into the stands. It hit no one.
Joyner did not attend, she said, because her principal, Frank Devine, was present to represent the school.
“From what I’ve received so far, both teams were treated equally,” Cashman [Brad Cashman, executive director of the PIAA] said. “I don’t see any evidence that shows the charges you’re saying [Joyner] is making could be verified.”
The day after the game, MC&S coach Danny Jackson said Gredic had received a school suspension, and that he had been told by Joyner he would be barred from coaching for the first few games of the 2010-11 campaign.
Joyner said in an interview neither one was slapped with disciplinary measures. Also, in an overall context, she said she takes great exception to the fact that the Daily News stated that MC&S’ program had “disgraced itself” during that loss.
“As the captain, he was allowed to speak with the referees [about rules interpretations or essential information, per PIAA rules]. He said they ignored him every time.”
Joyner is particularly angry that one MC&S player, Thomas Moore, suffered a bloodied lip (while trying to draw a charge) and that another, Gredic, was pushed to the floor en route to the basket. Fouls were not called.
[Cashman] added, “This is the only Philadelphia school that makes these complaints. Our reports are that the conduct of MC&S’ coaches, players and fans is OK when they’re winning. When they’re losing, it becomes unsportsmanlike. Putting it mildly. It was definitely ‘unacceptable’ based on the reports I have so far from last week’s game.”
Cashman said the referees’ reports show that one MC&S player received back-to-back techs, then an automatic ejection.
“[The player] verbally abused a ref to get a tech, then did it again, right away, to get the next tech,” Cashman reported. “The referees’ reports don’t indicate the number of techs, but they all resulted from ‘obscene language’ and ‘questioning of officials.'”
Coleman said Joyner submitted to him a letter and DVD of last year’s Greenwood loss.
“I found there was no room at all to protest,” he said. “There was one call in the last 30 seconds that could have, even should have, gone the other way. It can’t come down to that. They played horrible. Down to the other team’s level. Danny and Lonnie [Diggs, MC&S’ athletic director and an assistant coach] were fine with not pursuing it.”
Diggs stated via text message, “I just feel many of our inner-city schools haven’t gotten a fair shake as far as officiating goes, for whatever reason, in many of the state playoff games held outside of our district vs. suburban teams this year and in years past. Hopefully, it is something that can be brought to light and corrected.”
Coleman, who is also African-American, labeled Joyner’s charges “completely unfounded; completely wrong . . . though I do realize she is entitled to due process.”
He added, “I’d have to ask Veronica Joyner, ‘Does she think Kansas is contacting the NAACP now because they lost to Northern Iowa?'”