WPIAL votes to hold hearing with Connellsville, Penn Hills officials over allegations of racial slurs at soccer game

Monday, September 17, 2018 | 7:45 PM

After investigating allegations of racial slurs, Connellsville and Penn Hills submitted conflicting reports to the WPIAL.

As a result, the WPIAL board of directors voted Monday to bring in administrators from each school district for a hearing next week, WPIAL executive director Tim O’Malley said. The accusations of racial slurs by Connellsville students, fans and players are connected to a Sept. 6 boys soccer game between the two high schools.

The reports prompted Penn Hills to postpone all contests against Connellsville until the issue is resolved.

The WPIAL board addressed the allegations Monday during its monthly meeting.

“We can’t come to a resolution,” O’Malley said. “There are conflicting reports, countless conflicting reports, so we’re going to hear from everybody and see what happens.”

The WPIAL will request high school principals, athletic directors and boys soccer coaches from both schools attend the hearing Sept. 24 at the league office in Green Tree.

In addition to reports from each school, the WPIAL received written reports from the game officials, O’Malley said, and those reports differ from public portrayals. However, O’Malley said he would not disclose details from any of the reports until next Monday’s hearing.

Lisa Silverman, a Penn Hills parent, criticized referees for not “addressing the racial hatred directed at our players” in a letter provided to the Tribune-Review.

Silverman did not attend the Sept. 6 game, but her son, Jonah, is on the Penn Hills soccer team. Jonah, who is white, told the Trib last week that Connellsville players called one of the black Penn Hills players slurs shortly after the first goal was scored.

He also said racial slurs were directed at all of the team’s black players during the game and again at one black player as the Penn Hills team made its way to the bus.

Connellsville’s police chief Bill Hammerle, who’s the father of two Connellsville varsity soccer players, said the Penn Hills players weren’t telling the truth.

“I swear on my kids’ lives it didn’t happen,” Hammerle told the Trib.

Hammerle strongly denied that any racial slurs were used on the field and in the stands. He said he sat 20 or 30 yards from the student section during the Sept. 6 game.

“I sat there at the whole game — not one time was the n-word used,” he said. “I never heard any of that. If I heard it, I would have been (upset).”

Tribune-Review staff writer Dillon Carr contributed. Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

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