Letter sent to MIAA alleges harassment from Old Rochester fans, players

Mar 14, 2024

WORCESTER – In a letter sent to the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association, representatives from Pittsfield Public Schools claim that Old Rochester Regional High School fans, students and parents harassed Pittsfield players during a MIAA Div. 3 tournament game on Monday, March 11.

The harassment, which came after a white Old Rochester player spit on a Black Pittsfield player, included racist language, according to the letter written by Pittsfield High School Principal Maggie Harrington-Esko.

After a Pittsfield layup, an Old Rochester player spit on a Pittsfield player as both ran back up the court. The Pittsfield player received a foul for shoving the Old Rochester player immediately after the incident.

According to the letter, the Pittsfield player was taken out of the game and “took a seat on the bench with spit on his face, and was visibly upset.”

Pittsfield boys basketball Coach Jerome Edgerton reportedly asked for the Old Rochester player to be removed from the game but he remained on the court, according to the letter.

In the letter, the Pittsfield player reported that benched Old Rochester players tugged on his jersey and that Old Rochester students called him the N-word once he was back in the game.

In addition, the letter claims that Pittsfield players, coaches and fans heard comments including “Go back where you come from,” “He’s a f-----g ghetto punk,” “You guys f-----g suck,” and “You're a b---h” both during and after the game from Old Rochester students, fans and parents.

A request for Pittsfield fans, players and students to be escorted out of the building by police following the game was “not fulfilled,” read the letter.

“As a result, when our team and supporters were escorted out of the gym without assistance, they were left vulnerable to further harassment and a subsequent assault, which occurred outside the building by a spectator,” according to the letter.

An MIAA official later escorted Pittsfield players out of the building, according to the letter.

A March 13 statement from the Old Rochester Regional School district said that the Old Rochester player involved in the incident “is no longer a member of the Old Rochester Boys Varsity Basketball Team and has since taken responsibility for his actions.”

In a statement, the MIAA said that it “has been made aware of an incident at a boys’ basketball tournament game between Old Rochester Regional High School and Pittsfield High School.”

“The MIAA continues to serve as a resource to its member schools as they navigate the facts of the matter at the local level,” the statement said.

This is not the first time that Old Rochester students have been accused of using racial slurs against Black opposing players.

In 2019, a player on the Old Rochester/Fairhaven boys hockey team reportedly called a Black Wareham player the N-word, and another Old Rochester/Fairhaven player spit on the same Black Wareham player.

“Pittsfield High School athletes are expressing that moving forward, they are afraid of what it means for a Black athlete to compete in the state of Massachusetts,” read the letter.

In its statement, the Old Rochester Regional School District said it has “been in contact with Pittsfield Public Schools administration throughout this process. We have reported this matter to the [MIAA] and will continue to collaborate with them throughout this process.”

The Old Rochester Regional School District expressed its “deepest regrets to the Pittsfield team and school community at large. We place the highest value on sportsmanship and will continue to expect the best from our student-athletes as leaders in our school communities.”

According to the district, Old Rochester Regional High School will “follow its policies and procedures as they relate to student discipline.”