KEARNEY–(KFOR Sept. 21)–Officials at Kearney High School are investigating a report of derogatory and offensive comments that were made when the school’s varsity volleyball team hosted Lincoln High on Tuesday night.
According to an email obtained by KFOR News from a Lincoln High parent, LHS players were called out by name, along with being “pointed at, laughed at, grabbed at, physically touched and called names; they did NOT feel safe.”
The email, which was also sent to other media outlets, Lincoln High and Kearney High administrators, indicated the Lincoln High players were “mocked, degraded and disrespected.” The email also said Kearney Athletic Director Ryan Hogue apparently told the Lincoln High head coach Stephanie Wilcox to “worry about coaching when she expressed her concern in how the students had behaved.”
Lincoln High volleyball parents on Wednesday afternoon received an email from LHS principal Mark Larson, saying the following:
“We are working with Lincoln Public Schools Athletics and Kearney High School to fully investigate reports of inappropriate comments and actions from the spectators during the volleyball game last night at Kearney High School. Student safety is one of our top priorities. We take each report seriously and will work with all involved to thoroughly investigate each report. We will share more information with you once the investigation is complete.”
According to KFOR’s media partner, 10/11 Now, KPS Activities Director and Assistant Principal Ryan Hogue said they are aware of allegations of irresponsible behavior from their students at the volleyball game are investigating it to the fullest extent. Hogue also admitted he should have handled the situation differently at the time.
“I was contacted by the Lincoln High coach at last night’s game who was upset with the behavior of our students. I told the coach that I would make sure this didn’t happen anymore and to continue coaching her team,” Rogue said. “In retrospect, I wish I would have taken different steps at that time to identify potential student misconduct. While it may be difficult to prove any misconduct occurred with our students today, we do apologize to the Lincoln High volleyball coaching staff and team for any potential misconduct that might have occurred. It is our expectation for Kearney High students and fans to set the standard for enthusiastic support of their team with a respectful demeanor towards our opponents.”
Following Kearney’s win, Hogue sent a tweet, giving the student section known as “Rowdies” a shout out for their support during the game. That tweet was deleted Wednesday following complaints from LHS parents.
Kearney High Principal Jeff Ganz said this type of behavior from students is not accepted at KHS.
“Kearney High School is making proactive changes to our game management practices and procedures to ensure a positive game experience for all teams competing at KHS,” Ganz said. “There will be consequences for any students found to be guilty of any misconduct in this incident.”
Kearney Public Schools superintendent Jason Mundorf also issued a statement, saying “We sincerely apologize to the coaches, players, students, and fans of Lincoln High School for anything negative they may have experienced.” Mundorf also expressed he has confidence in Ganz and Hogue “to develop game management plans and protocols that will ensure our students continue supporting our team in a respectful and honorable fashion.”
The incident apparently has been reported to the Nebraska School Activities Association and the organization has been in contact with both schools. The investigation is ongoing.