Visiting school says students used racial slurs after football game at Council Bluffs

Faceoff after game with Des Moines leaves schools in disagreement over how things went down.
Friday Night Lights — turned dark — at one Council Bluffs High School last week.
Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 5:59 PM CDT
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COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (WOWT) - Friday Night Lights turned dark at one Council Bluffs high school last week.

“Things I heard were ‘kill yourself, hang yourself.’ Definitely the N-word usage all over the place,” said Theo Evans, head coach of the Des Moines Hoover Huskies.

He said losing to Thomas Jefferson High on Friday wasn’t the worst part. Evans claims the Council Bluffs students then race-baited his players.

“It was a shock for me. Kind of a punch in the face for me, for myself. And then hearing it said to my guys,” he said.

Footage from the game showed Jefferson students following Huskies players as they walked off the field to the locker room. Even the announcer tried to get things under control.

“Show some class. Stay back. Student section: Leave the field. Exit the field at this time. Right now,” he said.

In a statement obtained by 6 News, the home district claimed Hoover representatives exaggerated what happened. It said in part: “...claims of racist behavior have dominated the headlines with no direct evidence… A few of the Hoover players went out of their way to engage with the TJ students.”

This comes less than 24 hours after the Hoover principal’s tweet gained social media traction. In that tweet, she defended her head coach and players’ claims that they were called “derogatory terms including racial slurs.”

The Council Bluffs spokesperson said that the two principals did speak Tuesday afternoon and found common ground, but the two still don’t seem to agree on what actually happened.

The Council Bluffs Community School District also told 6 News that it addressed the inappropriate behavior of three students that evening.

Read the Council Bluffs school district’s full statement

“It is unfortunate the statements being made by Hoover High School representatives have unfairly exaggerated the 2-minute exchange between our students and the Hoover players on the field with unsubstantiated claims of throwing items. More disturbingly, claims of racist behavior have dominated the headlines with no direct evidence. Racism in any form is not tolerated in our school district.

Video from the game provides evidence that the reports of one-sided aggressiveness are inaccurate. A few of the Hoover players went out of their way to engage with the TJ students. They can be seen walking away from the direction of the locker room to engage in aggressive behavior, such as shoving TJ students. The reports of large crowds of students near the player’s bus after the game are also not supported by the security video footage in the area.

None of the specific concerns about these claims were brought to our attention before the Hoover coach posted on social media or was interviewed by the news. We were not given the opportunity to investigate or confirm their account of events. We would have certainly collaborated with them to complete an investigation.

We regret that our Thomas Jefferson student section did not wait to rush the field before the Hoover football team had exited to the locker room on Friday. The students were naturally excited for the Homecoming game win and wanted to celebrate with our players.

We do not condone demeaning or aggressive language, and have addressed the inappropriate behavior of three students that evening. The actions of a small number of students do not reflect the student body, the school culture, or the respect for diversity that is prevalent at Thomas Jefferson High School. I can speak on behalf of the school district and the school that these claims will not define our students and school community.

As a school district, we will review with students the protocols for fan interaction at future school athletic events.”

Council Bluffs Community District