AUSTIN, Texas - The local NAACP has filed a complaint with the UIL following Friday's state semifinal game between the Lindale Eagles and the Austin LBJ Jaguars. The Eagles won the game 31-28, but the NAACP said it was only because of unfair officiating.
The president of the Austin NAACP asked the UIL to postpone Friday's state championship game until an investigation can be completed, but the UIL said that's not going to happen.
It was after the Friday Night lights turned off in Humble, that LBJ Jaguar coach Jahmal Fenner had a chance to look over video of his team's loss during the state semifinal game.
"It just drove it home for me that what I felt during the game, that something wasn't right. It just confirmed it for me," Fenner said.
After the first half of the game, the Jaguars led 28 to 7. In the second half, Fenner said officials called 16 penalties on the Jaguars, while ignoring all but two penalties made by the Eagles. The Eagles went on to win by a field goal after an LBJ touchdown was called back.
"I don't feel like my players and my team lost that game solely because we played bad or we made bad calls. Yes, some of that did take place, but the officials had took part in some of that as well. So I hadn't experienced that before to that degree. You know, this is not the first time that a game has been officiated bad. Won't be the last time, but it was pretty clear whose favor that the officials were for," said Fenner.
Dozens of parents and players are also convinced something was up. Austin NAACP President Nelson Linder said he received about 60 calls and letters regarding officials at the game.
"It was definitely a racial issue. I got some calls about racial slurs, people being ugly, nasty, no doubt about it. I'm telling you, if you were there, you can feel the tension in the air. So it was definitely racial, no doubt about that," Linder said.
Although the NAACP won't typically get involved in high school football, Linder said this time he felt it was necessary.
"I don't like being a sportscaster. I'm not good at that, but I do understand what's right, what's wrong, what's fair, what's unfair. This to me is very, very clear. This was ugly. It should never have occurred in any sport for these young people. These kids, their spirits have been broken," said Linder.
Linder asked the UIL to take action prior to the state championship game, which the Eagles play in on Friday night.
"Look at the tapes. Look at some of the complaints. Check out the referee's background, make a decision. Postpone tomorrow night's game, replay the game, come up with a fair solution where the best team, the deserving team, plays in the state championship," Linder said.
The UIL responded with a statement to FOX 7 Austin that reads,
"All officials are agreed upon by both parties in advance of a game and per the UIL Constitution and Contest Rules section 1204, a protest based on a game or contest official’s decision will not be considered.
While the UIL will not be formally investigating this matter, The Texas Association of Sports Officials has a process for reporting rule misapplication by an official and investigating such reports."
The NAACP has since responded to that, writing:
"We will definitely pursue this process further. Of course, we were intent upon filing the complaint before tomorrow night's championship game. It was important to let the students know that we knew they were treated unfairly. We will now take our concerns to the Texas Association of Sports Officials.
It’s important that these kinds of incidents are exposed to the public. We will also consider possible legal actions."
Lindale athletics did not respond to requests for comment.