WPIAL continues investigation of racial slurs in Mohawk-Burrell football game

Monday, November 20, 2023 | 6:31 PM

The WPIAL investigation is ongoing into allegations that racial slurs were used in a Burrell-Mohawk football game.

Members of the WPIAL Equity Council for Diversity, Inclusion & Cultural Competency continued to review information after meeting last week with representatives from the two schools, WPIAL executive director Scott Seltzer said Monday.

“They should have a recommendation for the board for the December meeting,” he said.

The WPIAL board, which met Monday, reconvenes Dec. 18. The equity council could recommend sanctions or other remedial actions. The WPIAL board ultimately decides whether to adopt the recommendations.

Schools also have the ability to appeal any such WPIAL decision.

Seltzer said members of the equity council held a video conference call last week with administrators and football coaches from the two schools. The committee was created in 2020 to advise the WPIAL board and also educate students.

Burrell and Mohawk met in a WPIAL playoff game Nov. 3. Burrell coach Shawn Liotta said Mohawk targeted his players with racial slurs and that he was ejected for protesting to game officials.

Mohawk released a statement within days of the game saying, “the district has not received any credible reports to corroborate the allegations of racial slurs and does not believe the conduct occurred based on its own internal investigation and the WPIAL officials’ report.”

The teams met in a WPIAL Class 2A first-round playoff game at Mohawk, which defeated Burrell, 42-0.

Liotta was ejected with 11 seconds left in the first half after walking onto the field to confront the officials. The ejection comes with a two-game suspension to start next season. Liotta said his assistant coaches and players heard the slurs. However, he said officials told him they hadn’t heard them.

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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