CIF denies San Diego County HS basketball title appeal over tortilla throwing incident

California

CORONADO, Calif. (KSWB) — A California Interscholastic Federation panel Tuesday unanimously upheld sanctions to Coronado High School following a controversial tortilla throwing incident after a June playoff basketball game with Orange Glen High School.

Coronado High was stripped of its regional boys basketball championship title in June and the school was placed on probation after video showed tortillas being thrown onto the court at the predominately Latino Orange Glen players when they’d just lost the game in overtime. The incident led to the dismissal of Coronado High head basketball coach JD Laaperi and was condemned by some members of the community for being racist and insensitive in nature.

Others, including the man who brought the tortillas to the game, defended the actions as being celebratory and linked to a tradition done at sporting events at UC Santa Barbara.

Despite an appeal by the Coronado Unified School District, the three-member appeal panel affirmed its sanctions with some modifications. The state’s sports governing body upheld its decision to strip the team of its title. In addition, CIF maintains Coronado High administrators must complete game management training and for the school to engage with the administration at Orange Glen to begin developing a positive relationship between the two communities.

However, CIF did modify the school’s probation through the 2023-24 school year by changing it to only impact the boys’ basketball program, according to the district.

“This is not the result we were hoping for,” Coronado Unified Superintendent Karl Mueller said in a statement. “Our boys earned the title, against a great team, on the court in a highly-contested and fair athletic contest.”

“However, we are pleased that the rest of our CHS men’s and women’s athletic teams are no longer part of the sanctions,” Mueller added.

The school district said other alterations to the sanctions included giving the basketball team eligibility to host postseason contests starting in the 2022-2023 school year contingent on all involved parties completing a sportsmanship workshop and game management training.

But the decision to uphold sanctions was not well received by Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey, who argued in a Facebook post that the panel’s ruling was “entirely indefensible.”

“The lesson here is even if you do the right thing, you can still be punished for the actions of others,” Bailey wrote. “And the governing bodies responsible for due process care more about advancing their own political narrative than the truth. Shame on them.”

FOX 5’s Dillon Davis contributed to this report.

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