WPIAL Equity Council to review Burrell’s allegations that Mohawk football players used racist remarks

Thursday, November 9, 2023 | 4:34 PM

The WPIAL will have a role in resolving the dispute between Burrell and Mohawk, whose football teams played a game marred by allegations of racial slurs.

The WPIAL Equity Council for Diversity, Inclusion & Cultural Competency is reviewing information submitted by the schools and will make a recommendation to the WPIAL board, the league announced Thursday. That plan differed from a day earlier, when the WPIAL said the schools were working to resolve the issue themselves.

WPIAL executive director Scott Seltzer attributed the discrepancy to a “misunderstanding of the process” among WPIAL administrators.

“This was always the plan,” Seltzer said. “That’s what both schools understood.”

The WPIAL Equity Council already has begun reviewing information submitted by the schools. The six-person committee, which has a seat on the WPIAL board, was formed in 2020.

The council could recommend sanctions or other remedial actions.

“That’s part of the reason we have an equity council: to advise us and guide us in these matters,” Seltzer said.

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

Mohawk released a statement 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.”

Seltzer said the WPIAL does not have investigative powers and must rely on member schools to submit evidence. At this time, the WPIAL does not intend to hold a hearing, Seltzer said, but representatives of the two schools might meet with the Equity Council via Zoom.

WPIAL chief operating officer Vince Sortino said Wednesday the schools were working to resolve issues without league intervention. Seltzer on Thursday said that wasn’t accurate. However, he did say the WPIAL ultimately hopes to resolve the situation in a way both schools can find acceptable.

“That’s always the goal,” Seltzer said. “I hope so.”

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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