A 16-year-old Black high school athlete was told by the assistant athletic director that he must have gotten his speed from “running from the police,” and has since transferred schools.
As reported by PIX11 News, Tony Humphrey–a star varsity baseball player from Iona Prep in New Rochelle, N.Y. joined the track team to work on his speed. He was then approached by the school’s assistant athletic director last Friday, who Deadspin reports is white, who asked Humphrey why he was doing track.
“I told him the same explanation I just told you, that I’m just trying to get faster, it never hurts to gain speed,” Humphrey told the outlet. “He questioned and said ‘oh, aren’t you already fast as is? I go ‘yeah,’ and then he tells me that I gained that speed from running from the police.” Humphrey immediately recognized the comment as racist and went home to tell his mother, who then helped him decide to transfer from Iona Prep to a public high school near his family home.
“I decided to leave because of my current situation as I’m already committed, I’m already going to school,” Humphrey said. “I don’t feel like I have to stay at a program where they’re gonna look at me different.”
Humphrey is a junior and has already committed to playing college ball at Boston College.
Iona students engaged in a walk-out on Tuesday in support of Humphrey, but he told the news outlet that this wasn’t the first time he had informed the school of racist behavior. “There was other incidents of racism with my freshman year. I took it up with the deans, I took it up with the higher-ups and nothing happened to the other student,” he explained.
Iona Prep, who declined to identify the staff member who made the comment, said that they would be launching an “internal investigation into the matter.”
“Such comments go against the very mission of the school to develop moral and ethical leaders,” the school said in a statement. “It is behavior that Iona Preparatory does not condone for its students and will not accept from its faculty and staff.”
The school also announced the staff member in question has since resigned.