High School Sports

Texas high school referee, considered by many as the best, suspended for racist comments

“Days of Glory” for Texas high school football players

AT&T Stadium hosted 12 UIL championship games in four days to crown 2017 state champions
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AT&T Stadium hosted 12 UIL championship games in four days to crown 2017 state champions

One of the state’s longest tenured high school football referee won’t be working during the 2019 season.

Mike Atkinson, who has been an official for 45 years, has been suspended by the Texas Association of Sports Officials after making racist comments, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Atkinson admitted to using the N-word during conversations and audio clips provided to the Houston Chronicle.

Honored by the Greater Houston Coaches Association with its Distinguished Service Award, Atkinson is considered by many as the best referee in Texas. Atkinson told the Chronicle he had no issues with having a black person on his crew, and that he doesn’t regularly us the N-word. Brian Raines, who is black, was on his 2018 crew, which worked the Class 6A Division II state title game between Beaumont West Brook and Longview in December.

In May, TASO informed Atkinson he would receive a two-week suspension at the start of the 2019 season and a three-week suspension at the end of the season, which would eliminate his crew from prestigious state quarterfinal, semifinal and championship games. Atkinson will have to petition the TASO state board and the Houston chapter board for reinstatement, and both boards must approve the request if he is to return to the field for the 2020 season, according to the Houston Chronicle.

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Born and raised in Hawaii, Brian Gosset graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in journalism before coming to Texas in 2014. He’s covered high school sports — yes, pretty much every high school sport — for the Star-Telegram ever since.