A day after the River Valley High School football program was forced to forfeit Friday night’s road game at Woodcreek in Roseville after a video showing players taking part in a “slave auction” was discovered, the Yuba City Unified School District was forced Friday to cancel the remainder of the varsity season.
In response to the discovery of the video on Thursday, district officials and school personnel called a private parent meeting in the River Valley library and later notified the media that the 2022 varsity season would be canceled.
The public, including the media, was not permitted inside the meeting on Friday afternoon. In fact, the Yuba City Police Department escorted the Appeal outside and away from the door.
The meeting pertained to a public recording by members of the River Valley football team acting out “a reprehensible act of a slave auction,” Yuba City Unified School District Superintendent Doreen Osumi previously said.
At the end of Friday’s meeting, Osumi said via a statement that the students involved in the “extremely distressing” incident will not be playing the rest of the season.
“They violated our student-athlete code of conduct, which they all signed and committed to follow, and that will not be ignored or minimized,” Osumi said. “As a result, we do not have the necessary number of players to safely field the varsity team and must thus forfeit the remainder of the season.”
Osumi said the junior varsity team will continue with its season and sophomores and juniors from the varsity squad can join the junior varsity team.
The next scheduled game, according to the school calendar, is 5 p.m. Thursday at home against Inderkum.
The video, as seen by the Appeal, showed at least three Black shirtless individuals inside a room with their heads down and objects tied around their neck as others yelled statements and laughed.
Osumi wrote Thursday in the letter to parents and personnel that the River Valley football team may argue that it was a joke, and intended no harm, “but the fact is that this is not only harmful, it is disgraceful.”
Osumi said the district immediately launched an investigation into the situation to determine which players were involved and “to offer our support and sincere regard for the humiliation and anger that this must be causing.”
River Valley’s varsity finished the season at 0-6.
Osumi said Friday that the district and site administrators are working in earnest to identify lessons and programs to help the student body learn from this situation.
“When students find humor in something that is so deeply offensive, it tells me that we have an opportunity to help them expand their mindset to be more aware, thoughtful and considerate of others,” Osumi said.
This is the second regional school to have a district cancel a varsity football season. Amador High School of Sutter Creek had its varsity football season canceled earlier this week due to an Amador County Unified School District investigation into a social media group chat among players with racial undertones.
In a statement sent to Amador parents and coaches, the Board of Trustees for the Amador County Unified School District announced the investigation into a group chat with racial undertones and other concerns – subsequently leading the district to pull the plug on the varsity season.
Amador will be allowed to finish out the JV season.