PIAA wants investigation into signs, video targeting Westinghouse football team

Saturday, December 10, 2022 | 4:17 PM

The PIAA has directed the Southern Columbia administration to investigate allegations of racist taunts involving signs and a social media video targeting Westinghouse’s football team.

The two schools met Friday in the PIAA Class 2A championship in Mechanicsburg.

Afterward, photos of hand-drawn signs saying “Whip Westinghouse” and “Southern State of Mind” circulated on social media, along with a TikTok video celebrating Southern Columbia’s win that included use of a racial slur.

Both incidents, which PIAA executive director Bob Lombardi called “tremendously disappointing,” occurred away from the site of the state championships, held at Cumberland Valley High School.

“We were forwarded the information, the one video and the photos,” Lombardi said. “We contacted the principal of Southern Columbia and submitted those items to him. We asked him to do an investigation right away, give us the results and the actions that he’s taken.”

Southern Columbia is a public school district in Catawissa, near Bloomsburg.

In a statement shared online, Southern Columbia said the district “has been made aware of allegations regarding incendiary remarks and behavior posted in a video along with signs posted at a community pep-rally. The Southern Columbia Area School District does not condone nor tolerate any form of racism or harassment.”

The allegations were under investigation, the district added, and the administration intended to uphold the code of conduct outlined in student handbooks.

From the photos, the signs are hanging on a wall, possibly in a gym, along with others that say “we run this state” and “one team one dream.” The sign referencing Westinghouse included a hand-drawn depiction of a whip.

Southern Columbia won its 13th state title and its sixth in a row by defeating Westinghouse, 37-22. Lombardi said the location shown in the photographs is unknown to the PIAA, but no such signs were seen at Friday’s game.

“That’s part of the investigation,” he said. “The investigation will tell us where it was, what it is and who did it.”

The TikTok video, captioned “Westinghouse is gonna wins states,” shows two teenage boys holding a sign from the PIAA 2A football championship. The audio used for the video includes a racial slur.

“We’re not tolerating this,” said Lombardi, adding that the PIAA may take action after the investigation is complete.

“Once we get the results from the school, we’ll evaluate what is submitted and we’ll go from there,” he said, “whether we need to bring them in for a hearing or whether they’ve taken enough corrective action to satisfy us.”

Chris Harlan is a TribLive reporter covering sports. He joined the Trib in 2009 after seven years as a reporter at the Beaver County Times. He can be reached at charlan@triblive.com.


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