Cleburne ISD apologizes for slurs during football broadcast

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - A Texas school district apologized Friday after a high school football broadcaster repeatedly used a racial slur when referring to African-American players on the opposing team.

The Cleburne Independent School District apologized for online audio comments made last week in a matchup between Cleburne High School and Seguin High School in Arlington, according to Leslie Johnston, spokeswoman for the Arlington Independent School District. Seguin is in Arlington, while the other school is in Cleburne, a city just south of Fort Worth.

The game was broadcast by an online site that covers Cleburne High School contests but isn't affiliated with the school district, school officials said.

Cleburne officials told Arlington administrators that the broadcaster will no longer call games, Johnston said.

"We support that decision," Johnston said in an email, adding that the schools believe "this is not a time for divisiveness, and we appreciate CISD taking steps to promote unity and good sportsmanship."

The broadcaster referred to the Seguin players as the "cougroes," an apparent conflation of the school mascot Cougar and the word "Negro."

More than a third of the Seguin student body is African-American, while about 3 percent of students at Cleburne High School are black, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

The same broadcaster also invoked a weight-loss program in joking about a Seguin cheerleader, saying at one point: "Jenny Craig has ... a lot of work to do with her."

Johnston said in an earlier statement that, "We do not condone such boorish behavior."

A spokeswoman for Cleburne schools, Lisa Magers, said the district began investigating shortly after the game.

"Cleburne ISD does not condone unacceptable, unprofessional, unethical comments," she said.

Magers noted the site isn't affiliated with the school district and said its operators have apologized.

Johnston and Magers identified the broadcaster as Mark Banton. He acknowledged to the Star-Telegram that he was one of the broadcasters who covered the football game, but he said he had "nothing to say" about the comments.

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