Updates at 8:27 p.m. with coach not commenting after playoff game tonight:
Jordan High School administrators in Durham will require all of their students to complete a sportsmanship class this month but have not concluded that students at a playoff soccer game on Nov. 1 behaved maliciously toward Page players.
Chip Sudderth, the chief communications officer for Durham Public Schools, released a statement tonight after Jordan completed its investigation.
Among Jordan's conclusions:
- Students did not verbally target two Page players whose fathers had died. Jordan admitted that some students chanted "who's your daddy?" but "could not find evidence that any of those students involved were aware of the very personal tragedies."
- Some students did research and learn the names of Page's players, plus the names of one girlfriend and one player's sister, via social media and called goalkeeper Eric Winkler, one of the players whose father had died, by name. The statement said that a Jordan parent and assistant coach admonished the students for that during the game.
- Game officials and Jordan administrators did not see or hear any wrongdoing nor receive any reports at the game.
- Jordan principal Susan Taylor received a letter from a Page parent outlining allegations and responded to the parent on the same day.
Jordan coach D.J. Ferguson, after his team's 2-1 overtime loss at Reynolds tonight in Bermuda Run, said he could not comment about the investigation.
The full statement from Durham Public Schools:
"Following the playoff game against Page High School on November 1, Jordan High administrators were made aware of allegations that hurtful comments about personal tragedies were shouted from the student section at specific players during the game. Game officials and Jordan administrators did not observe these actions during the match, and no inappropriate behavior was reported to the athletic director or assistant principal on duty at the game. The next day Jordan principal Susan Taylor received a letter from a Page High parent detailing the allegations; Principal Taylor responded to the parent the same afternoon.
"After interviewing students, faculty members, parents and community members who were in the stands, Mrs. Taylor found that some Jordan students researched the team roster and social media ahead of the game, learning the names of players, one player’s girlfriend and another’s sister. At least two Jordan students and one former student followed Page players on social media. Some student section members called the goalie’s name and made comments at another player, or called 'How is your sister/how is your girlfriend?' At least one Jordan parent and a Jordan assistant coach admonished the student section in response to those comments.
"Some student section members also shouted 'Who’s your daddy?' during gameplay, but Principal Taylor’s investigation could not find evidence that any of those students involved were aware of the very personal tragedies that two of the Page players had endured. Her review of group text messages among student spectators indicated that those students were not aware of the family losses.
"Principal Taylor’s investigation was unable to find evidence of the most severe allegations, but also indicates that a refresher in good sportsmanship would be helpful for the entire student body. By Thanksgiving, all Jordan High School students will complete the sportsmanship class provided by the National Federation of High School Sports through grade level assemblies. The class will be led by the athletic director supported by team captains, coaches, and administrators.
"Should evidence become available that allows Jordan High administrators to identify specific students who targeted personal tragedies of Page soccer players, those identified students will receive school-level consequences."
Nancy Winkler, the mother of Eric Winkler, posted on Facebook on Saturday to say she had sent a letter to Jordan High School and to the Durham system's Board of Education saying "Eric was relentlessly attacked from the sideline during a soccer event in a way none of us were prepared for, and he wasn't the only one on our team." She described comments about Eric's girlfriend as "crude and vulgar" and yelled "where is your dad?" at the player.
"Another player's father committed suicide amidst allegations of embezzlement," Nancy Winkler wrote in the post. "These fans had researched this fact and shouted 'Where's the money?' multiple times at him as well."
Staff writer Joe Sirera contributed.