Coronado High School's Basketball State Title Vacated over Tortilla-Throwing Incident

Blake SchusterContributor IJuly 1, 2021

SYRACUSE, NY - FEBRUARY 14:  Nike basketball rests on the court during the game between the Syracuse Orange and the Duke Blue Devils on February 14, 2015 at The Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York.  Duke defeats Syracuse 80-72.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

The Coronado High School basketball team in San Diego had its division regional championship vacated Wednesday by the California Interscholastic Federation. The move stems from a June 19 game against Escondido's Orange Glen High School when at least two Coronado players threw tortillas toward the predominantly Latino team.

Coronado has been placed on probation through the 2023-24 school year and will not be allowed to host any sectional, regional or state playoff basketball games through 2022-23. The school will not be allowed to participate in any postseason sports until the completion of a sportsmanship workshop and game management training, the CIF announced.

"While consequences are warranted for such an egregious action as throwing tortillas at a predominantly Latino team and the sanctions below are being levied on the athletic program at Coronado High School, we must all be aware that behavior does not normally change with sanctions alone," a CIF statement read. "The path towards real change comes with the development of empathy for those who are on the receiving end of this type of degrading and demeaning behavior, no matter the proffered intent of that behavior."

The workshop, which includes racial sensitivity training, is required for all Coronado administrators, athletic directors and student-athletes.

Kristen Taketa of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported witnesses saw Coronado head basketball coach JD Laaperi cursing at an Orange Glen coach following the game at the start of the incident.

"That's why you don't talk (expletive)," Laaperi allegedly said. "Get your kids and get the (expletive) out of here."

Video footage showed players throwing tortillas shortly after.

The Coronado Unified School Board unanimously voted to fire Laaperi last week. The CIF "strongly encouraged" Coronado to work with Orange Glen to create a positive relationship, suggesting a restorative justice approach including community service projects the two could collaborate on.

"We are currently reviewing the decision and will evaluate a possible appeal," the Coronado Unified School District said in a statement released after CIF's decision. "We have also retained an outside investigator to thoroughly review the incident, which will guide any additional corrective actions. Whatever actions we take to address this matter, this incident and the CIF decision have served as clear reminders of the importance of sportsmanship and respectful conduct toward one another."