An African-American boys' basketball coach has resigned after students at his New York high school aimed racist tweets at an opposing team's players last month.
Eight Mahopac (N.Y.) High students were suspended for posting "racial taunts of abhorrent nature" on Twitter following the school's 43-40 sectional semifinal loss to rival Mount Vernon (N.Y.). As a result, Mahopac coach Kevin Downes, who is black, stepped down after seven seasons on the bench, according to The Journal News.
"I did a lot of soul-searching the last two weeks and just felt like the best thing for me to do was to move on," Downes told the paper. "I was kind of heartbroken over all the stuff that happened -- not just the comments that were made but the 200-plus times those comments were liked, favorited and retweeted. It was tough, and it's been tough on my kids."
Mount Vernon superintendent Judith Johnson reportedly also accused Downes' players of joining spectators in making racially charged remarks, but a series of interviews with players, coaches from both sides and game officials conducted by the Mahopac administration turned up no evidence to corroborate Johnson's claims, according to The News Journal.
Still, Downes stepped down, citing a racial divide in the community that dates back to his playing days at Mahopac in the 1970s and '80s.
"I think what was most disappointing was not just the comments — they're hurtful and disappointing — but the lack of outrage from people until the community was in the position of being slanted by the media to look a certain way," he told The Journal News. "I think that's when you saw a lot of people's outrage." Downes did not rule out coaching elsewhere in the future.