MIDDLETOWN >> Middletown High School Director of Athletics Elisha De Jesus said Saturday that she is filing a complaint with the CIAC about the behavior of the Pomperaug High School (Southbury) student cheering section at the Middletown vs. Pomperaug Class L quarterfinal round contest. The game was played at Middletown High School Friday evening.
The behavior in question was the Pomperaug student section chant of “SAT scores, SAT scores” towards the Middletown players and students.
“We are very disappointed at the poor sportsmanship exhibited by the Pomperaug students,” said De Jesus.
De Jesus has the full backing of Principal Colleen Weiner and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Patricia Charles in filing the complaint.
“To portray our student athletes in that way is not only unsportsmanlike, but is just wrong,” DeJesus added. “Many of our basketball players are Honor Roll students and every year we send our students, including student-athletes, to the finest colleges and universities in the country.
“Middletown is a very diverse community and sometimes when individuals from other communities that are not diverse play us, they sometimes jump to totally unwarranted and unfair conclusions.
“We are very proud of our student-athletes who not only do very well in athletics, but also perform very well in the classroom.”
Middletown starts five African-American players and its coach, Rick Privott, an MHS alumnus who starred at guard when Middletown compiled its Connecticut and New England record of 80 consecutive wins, is also African-American.
UPDATE: Pomperaug’s Twitter fan account @pomp_jungle16 briefly issued a formal apology for its behavior on Sunday night. The post was eventually deleted within 10 minutes for unknown reasons.
It originally stated: “Our actions on Friday night at the Boys Basketball Class L Quarterfinals was not in good character or good judgement. We sincerely hope this issue can be resolved and such verbal actions will never happen again from any PHS student, player, coach, administrator, or teacher.”
UPDATE (Monday, 1:30): The account re-issued the apology after speaking with the school’s administrators:
— PHS Jungle (@pomp_jungle16) March 14, 2016
De Jesus was also upset with the booing of Middletown players prior to the game by the Pomperaug students. She was also interrupted by the Pomperaug students during her usual pre-game sportsmanship announcement.
“I’ve never had to stop my announcement and ask other students to be quiet and respectful,” she said.
Similar announcements are made at Central Connecticut Conference Schools, signs detailing expected fan conduct are posted at Southern Connecticut Conference schools and locally a similar announcement is made at Xavier High School.
When De Jesus approached Pomperaug Director of Athletics Joseph Velardi about the SAT chant, De Jesus said he took no action and said, “I guess we’ll have to take the hit for that.”
Velardi did not respond to a phone call and two e-mails requesting comment on Saturday.
Region 15 Superintendent of Schools Regina L. Botsworth responded to the second e-mail requesting comment with a two-sentence reply which said, “Pomperaug High School values and expects good sportsmanship on the part of our students. We are aware of behaviors at the game and we are looking into them.”
Botsworth was asked in a follow-up e-mail Saturday if she would share the results of her investigation and if she was to be the sole spokesperson for the Region 15 school district relative to the incident. As of mid-Sunday afternoon she had not replied to that e-mail.
De Jesus said that she received little assistance from Pomperaug officials at the game and at one point positioned herself in front of the Pomperaug students who were leaning over the railing behind the scoring table.
“But in fairness to them, they were dealing with one of their students who was intoxicated,” De Jesus said. “They called the parents to pick him up, but they didn’t arrive until the fourth quarter. At that point their AD came to the student section and I left.”
Middletown (23-3) won the game 76-67 before a full house of 1,000 fans and will play Newington in a Class L semifinal game Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Berlin High.
A similar incident of the “SAT scores” chant happened last week when Farmington High students chanted that at Capital Prep’s girls team. Reportedly, Capital Prep held an all-school assembly to discuss how to deal with that event.
According to Lori Riley’s story in The Hartford Courant, the Farmington High School administration took full responsibility for the chant, denounced the students who participated and vowed to take action to see that such actions would never happen again.
Farmington’s team is virtually all-white and Capital Prep is virtually all African-American as is its coach, Tammy Millsaps. Both Farmington High and Pomperaug are largely white schools while Middletown High is some 23 percent African-American.
In a follow-up story in Saturday’s Hartford Courant, Riley reported that subsequently Farmington High School students reached out to Capital Prep and apologized for the actions of their fellow students. Capital Prep accepted the apology.