Parents of several members of Curie’s basketball team fully supported Mike Oliver’s decision to pull the Condors off the court in Michigan City, Ind. on Jan. 16.
After speaking with the parents, Curie Principal Allison Tingwall and Athletic Director Patrick Cox sent a letter to the Illinois High School Association on Sunday requesting an appeal of the two game suspension handed down to Oliver.
The suspension was announced Monday. Oliver sat our Curie’s game against St. Ignatius on Sunday and is expected to sit out today against Kenwood.
“Coach Oliver believed his action to be preventive to avoid a severe player injury or potential inter-squad fight,” Tingwall wrote in the letter. “Prior to deciding to leave the court, Coach Oliver did respectfully express his concerns, to no avail, to the Michigan City Coach and Athletic Director. Player safety is of the utmost importance, and while I recognize my decision complicates the process, I cannot comfortably condone a punishment that would indicate that the coach is expected to ignore game conditions that threaten student safety.”
The Curie parents that were in attendance in Michigan City also feel race was an issue.
“I would also like to note that parents strongly feel race was playing a role in the safety concerns,” Tingwall wrote.
Terry Smith Sr., the father of Curie’s Terry Smith Jr., echoed those concerns and fully supported Oliver’s decision to pull the team off the court.
“We want men like Mike Oliver coaching our boys,” Smith said. “It is what we prefer, men that stand up for what they believe in. It is a cultural thing. (Oliver) cannot sit back and let these young African-American males be bullied and disrespected.”
Smith Sr. was at the game in Michigan City.
“It was a dangerous, escalating situation,” Smith said. “Our kids were at risk, it was forseeable that the young men would be seriously injured . We had to figure out how to get out of Indiana together.”