A brief social media video containing a racial epithet and threats of harm to a Booneville basketball player has led to disciplinary action and canceled games.
On Jan. 11, Booneville’s boys basketball team defeated rival New Site, 53-45, to claim the Prentiss County Tournament championship. Later that night, a 19-second Snapchat video from two New Site students – neither of whom is an athlete – was sent to a black Booneville player.
One student in the video used the N-word and other vulgar language as he threatened to beat up the player.
In reaction to the video, Booneville has canceled its scheduled basketball games against New Site on Feb. 4. Saltillo also canceled a game against New Site that had been scheduled for Tuesday of this week.
Also, New Site’s girls team pulled out of Saturday’s Robertson’s Sportswear Challenge, which is hosted by Booneville.
On Wednesday, New Site Principal Ronald Clark said the students involved in making the video are being disciplined.
“These were not athletes,” Clark said. “This had nothing to do with basketball players. It’s been told it was the basketball team, and that’s not the truth.”
The video appears to be in response to a video sent by the Booneville player.
“It’s been blown plumb out of proportion,” Clark said. “… If they could see the whole conversation that took place, it tells a whole different story.”
Administrators from both the Booneville and Prentiss County school districts have met to talk about the situation.
“There are no issues between the two school districts,” Prentiss County Superintendent Ronnie Hill said. “We just felt like with the rivalry the way that it was, we were going to back off and give a cooling-off period. Our intentions are for the two schools to continue playing next year.”
New Site will host Potts Camp on Friday in a pair of Division 1-2A games. Jeremy Dillard, who coaches both Potts Camp’s boys and girls teams, wanted to move the games to a neutral site, but MHSAA rules don’t allow it.
So his teams, made up mostly of black students, will trek to New Site. Clark said the school will have extra security at the gym as a precaution.
“Our parents are very concerned with the situation, and as a coach I will tell you I am as well,” Dillard said. “I’m not pleased with how this is going to work out, but at the end of the day our job is to play basketball and to coach basketball.”
Clark noted that New Site hosted a majority-black girls team, Biloxi, earlier this season. He doesn’t expect there to be any issues Friday.
“There’s nothing like that going on,” he said. “It’s all been blown way out of proportion.”