A Cleburne sports broadcaster called Arlington Seguin football players “Cougroes” and made fun of a Seguin cheerleader’s weight during the radio broadcast of Seguin’s game against Cleburne last week, according to audio obtained by the Star-Telegram.
Mark Banton of JacketRadio.com acknowledged that he was one of the broadcasters at the Cleburne-Seguin game and would neither confirm nor deny making the comments.
“I am aware of the accusations and I have nothing to say about it,” Banton told the Star-Telegram on Thursday.
On Friday, the Cleburne school district told the Star-Telegram that Banton is no longer affiliated with JacketRadio.com and will not work Friday night’s game against Burelson.
Arlington school district officials said Thursday that JacketRadio.com will not be allowed to broadcast games involving their schools. They also reported the broadcaster’s behavior to the University Interscholastic League, the governing body of high school athletics in Texas.
The broadcaster made racially charged comments throughout the game, sometimes singling out players, said Arlington school district spokeswoman Leslie Johnston.
Cleburne school district officials said they are investigating the matter.
“Cleburne ISD does not condone unethical, unprofessional or unacceptable comments,” said Lisa Magers, a school district spokeswoman. “When our school district was notified by Arlington ISD officials of the situation, we immediately began addressing the concern.”
Cleburne and Seguin are in District 9-5A, which also includes schools from Burleson, Crowley, Everman and Granbury. Cleburne plays at Burleson on Friday.
Seguin beat Cleburne in the game 30-16.
‘I have nothing to say’
When asked if he called the Seguin players “Cougroes” — apparently a combination of Seguin’s mascot, the Cougar, with negroes — Banton said: “I have nothing to say about it.”
Arlington Seguin’s student body is 37.5 percent African-American and 14 percent white. Cleburne High is 49 percent white and 3.4 percent African-American.
On the audio, Banton also singled out a Seguin cheerleader, apparently making a joke about the girl’s weight.
“Can we talk about that Seguin cheerleader ...? What do you think [inaudible] should do with that? ... Jenny Craig has a lot to do — a lot of work to do with her.”
When asked if he made the comment about the cheerleader, Banton said: “I have nothing to say about it.”
‘I’m a guy who likes Cleburne’
Banton was on the JacketRadio broadcast of a Cleburne volleyball game on Tuesday, according to JacketRadio.com archives. The broadcast of the football game against Seguin has been removed from the website’s archives.
JacketRadio.com is in its first year of broadcasting Cleburne athletic events. In an article posted on the Cleburne school district website, broadcaster Monty Dobbins said: “... We’re not here to be negative or editorialize. We’re not here to downplay our teams or the teams we’re playing.”
Dobbins and Banton are not employees of the Cleburne school district, though the district has promoted JacketRadio.com on its website.
Dobbins, a 1984 graduate of Cleburne High School, did not return requests for comment Thursday.
Banton, a 1972 Cleburne High graduate, was selected to serve as the marshal of the Cleburne homecoming parade on Thursday, according to the school district website.
“I’m a guy who likes Cleburne, likes the Yellow Jackets and likes to spread the gospel,” Banton said in an article on the website.
‘Do not condone such boorish behavior’
Arlington school district officials said they were made aware of “inappropriate and offensive comments that took place throughout the broadcast,” Johnston said in a statement.
“We have contacted the Cleburne ISD,” Johnston said. “While we did not receive an apology, we were told that the individuals on the broadcast were not CISD employees and that the administration is involved and the situation will be addressed.”
Johnston’s statement said “we do not condone such boorish behavior, and we are confident CISD would not condone such broadcasts in their name.”
Seguin head football coach Joe Gordon said Thursday that he was aware “of some of the language used to describe our student-athletes and some of the slurs that were suggested.”
“At the end of the day, we just try to focus on the things that are a positive for our student-athletes,” Gordon said. “For us, it’s all about focusing on the things that are important and showcasing love for all and embracing a game we love.”