Tabiona School accused of racism and unsportsmanlike conduct

Local News

HOLLADAY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Intermountain Christian School will not play any boys basketball games against Tabiona School for at least one year. The move comes after alleged escalating racism and unsportsmanlike conduct from Tabiona.

Over the years, ICS says they have had challenges with Tabiona in the past, but things became more egregious in January 2019.

Here’s a summary of the alleged racist conduct that led to ICS’ conclusion:

January 18, 2019

According to a document obtained by ABC4 News, an elderly man, identified as Leon Casper of Tabiona, repeatedly yelled “Blackie , go home! Go home, blackie!” to Tim Drisdom, head coach and athletic director for Intermountain Christian School.

An ICS freshman “calmly confronted” Casper and asked, “Why are you doing that? That’s not the way to do it,” to which Casper reportedly responded, “Well he is a negro, isn’t he?”

During the game, two Tabiona fans were ejected by the officials.

January 22, 2019

Intermountain Christian School Principal, Denise Buckley, received a call from one of the Tabiona fans who had been ejected from the game on January 18th. The caller claimed his son, who plays for the Tabiona Tigers, “received a death threat” after the game from Coach Drisdom.

Documents state the player was yelling at Drisdom during the game.

In the “good game” line at the end of the game, “As the player and Coach Drisdom shook hands, the ICS coach pulled the player closer to him to communicate. The player pulled back and Drisdom said, “Don’t you ever disrespect an adult. I don’t know who you think you are, but you are not about that. You’re not about that life. You are not about that life.” 

Drisdom told ABC4’s Brittany Johnson that the intent was not to threaten the player, but Tabiona took it otherwise, and thus, the “death threat” accusations began.

January 22-February 14, 2019

Coach Drisdom and Darin Jenkins, principal of Tabiona School, had numerous conversations in preparation for the February 15th game at Tabiona. According to ICS, they were assured there would be no problems.

February 15, 2019 ICS at Tabiona

Leon Casper was back in attendance at this game. He’s accused of making racial slurs to ICS Head Coach, Tim Drisdom, in the game prior.

This time, he allegedly called Drisdom an a–hole.

“Coach Drisdom immediately asked Jenkins to deal with the situation. Mr. Jenkins did not hear him. After the game, Coach Drisdom let Jenkins know about the actions of Leon from across the court. Mr. Jenkins told Coach Drisdom, ‘I’ll keep an eye on him.’ “

Mitch Menning, the head of school at ICS, wanted Casper removed from the game.

Casper was not removed from the game because Jenkins “did not want to make a big scene.”

In the second quarter of the game, the two Tabiona fans who were ejected from the first game, were accused of “taunting,” “swearing” and “mocking” one of the ICS players.

Coach Drisdom can be seen on video trying to get his player’s attention. Drisdom wanted the player to switch on offense to get him away from the mocking, adult fans.

The 17-year-old “snapped” due to the verbal abuse of the adult fans and made an inappropriate comment to the crowd.

The player received his second technical foul and was disqualified for the rest of the game.

Also during the game, one woman says she heard a Tabiona fan yell either, “Get the f-ing n-word out of here!” or “Get the n-word the f— out of here!”

Drisdom and Tabiona Head Coach, Lee Gines, got into a yelling match in the hallway. A parent from ICS stepped in to defuse the situation.

The Duchesne County School District Board of Education hired Blake Ostler to do an independent investigation. 

“I was able to determine that a number of the incidents alleged in the written communication by ICS, couldn’t be verified. Meaning, I wasn’t able to disconfirm or to confirm what they had written,” Ostler said. 

Ostler did confirm the racial slurs used by Casper, but he also notes the ICS narrative of events is “one-sided” and “unfair.” 

“It’s not the responsibility of the coach to keep the crowd in line nor is it an easy matter for a school district to eject a person from a public venue.”

“I can understand the coach of ICS (Tim Drisdom) being sensitive. He’s a person of color. My son-in-law is a person of color. My grandkids are persons of color. And so I am sensitive. Being in a small minority, in a small Utah town that’s almost 100 percent white, I can understand why ICS would be sensitive and want to protect him and why he might be sensitive,” Ostler said.

Ostler’s investigation also found that a parent from ICS tried to assault Tabiona’s head coach.

“When you’ve got a parent from ICS that’s essentially assaulting the coach from Tabiona, and you’ve got the coach from ICS who is essentially threatening a Tabiona player, they are also engaging in conduct that is not civilly acceptable.”

Tim Drisdom on the alleged racial verbiage directed towards him

“It was really, really loud and so he (Casper) didn’t yell it loud enough where I can hear it, but he yelled it loud enough to where one of our students heard it and addressed him on it.”

“I think it was a blessing that I didn’t hear it. I hate that it happened. I really hate that we had some kids that heard it.”

“I hate that what he sees me as is just a color. I hate that that is the only thing that he could find to say and I don’t think he has a desire to get to know me. But I’d love to sit down and talk with him. That’d be great.”

Drisdom on using this as a teachable moment for his players

“You really can’t change people’s hearts. That’s a God thing. That’s kind of what he does. What we can do is educate ourselves, put ourselves in positions to be more understanding. It’s also an opportunity to realize that this stuff still exists.”

Drisdom on the alleged death threat he made to a Tabiona player

“I’ve never threatened to kill anybody. Never.”

“The way I reacted towards what happened down there, I’m not proud of that. I’m not proud of the fact that I snapped. For me, it was a feeling of helplessness, a feeling of hopelessness in that space. I regret that that was my response.”

Drisdom on one of his players that was removed from the game

“He responded to fans taunting him.”

“He said some things that he probably should not have said after receiving his second technical foul.”

Drisdom’s takeaways from the incidents

“I think it’s sad. It’s sad that people lower themselves to that standard. It’s sad that that’s still a reality in America and anywhere.”

“Fans will say whatever they feel like they can say to get under your skin. There’s no limitation to that. There’s no respect, there’s no level. There’s no line to say ok, I’m not going to cross that.”

“That’s not a message we should give to 14,17,18 year-old kids, to expect to be called or to be labeled by your race. To be disrespected because of the color of your skin. That’s not the message we should be sending as coaches to our kids.”

Thoughts from Mitch Menning, head of school at Intermountain Christian School

“We’re playing schools that probably haven’t had a lot of diversity coming through their towns so it’s coming to the surface there.”

“It’s bizarre to me that fans in high school games are allowed to be much less sportsmanlike, than fans in NBA arenas.”

“The bigger solution, and I think is a bit embarrassing to our state, is that we don’t have anything regarding racial slurs in our handbooks. We don’t have a fan code of conduct.”

“On the court we haven’t seen any problems. We haven’t had any problems with the students from the other school. We haven’t had any problems with the student fans from the other school. But there seems to be a culture that’s among the adults that’s allowing kids to do that kind of thing too.”

“The shocking thing was given all the information that they knew, the disappointing part is that the administration and police didn’t really do anything about it at that time.”

“When you look back at the way things have gone there for a while, it looks like the coach has created this culture of unsportsmanlike conduct that has gone unchecked in the school.”

The Utah High School Activities Association is discussing a new fan code of conduct.

*CORRECTION* ABC4 incorrectly highlighted the wrong indivual sitting in the crowd in the original video. This is being corrected. We apologize for the mistake. 

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