Minnesota HS basketball team refuses to play due to reinstatement of opposing coach who used racial slur

North St. Paul's team made the decision with consideration of a potentially 'uncomfortable environment'

A Minnesota high school boys basketball game will not tip off as scheduled Friday after Eden Prairie head coach David Flom was reinstated from suspension for using a racial slur while speaking to his team.

North St. Paul’s players decided unanimously to not play against Flom’s team on Friday.

Head coach Cornelius Gilleylen said it was the players who led the meeting that resulted in the consensus. “They just came to a united decision, a united front,” Gilleylen said on The Morning News With Vineeta Sawkar.

“The issue came up with the players in a sense of being in an uncomfortable situation, an uncomfortable environment, and just coming together having a conversation about everything that has happened over the course of the week.”

Flom was suspended in December after a complaint was made against him. While the school did not confirm the nature of the complaint, a letter circulated in his support. It said the coach read a racial slur aloud during a team classroom session with players and coaches that was aimed to discuss responsible social media usage.

Eden Prairie announced Monday on Twitter that the coach had been reinstated. The district also released a statement concluding its investigation. It read, in part:

“While state law governing information about employees does not allow us to release any further information at this time, we appreciate everyone's understanding of the importance of conducting a thorough investigation. We listened to multiple perspectives, and hope some learning comes out of this difficult time.”

Flom's return was reportedly met with a standing ovation Tuesday, when he was introduced before his first game back, a 112-71 loss to sixth-ranked Wayzata.

"I know the harm I have caused and, thankfully, I got to start that process when I got in front of the players and genuinely shared how regretful I was for my mistake," Flom told local reporters after the loss. "I'd love to be part of any discussions going forward, from an education standpoint and for my own learning. I've changed in terms of my grace and being judgmental."

Gilleylen said he and his athletes have dealt with racist remarks in the past. “It’s just a life experience now that we have to deal with, adapt and adjust.”

It is not yet known how the missed game will affect the North St. Paul's record. “It’s still kind of premature right now. All of those details are still to come,” Gilleylen said.

In place of the game against Eden Prairie, North St. Paul will have practice Friday. On Saturday, the team will watch the Minnesota Timberwolves host the Sacramento Kings as a team bonding event.

Then the team will direct all its focus to preparing for a conference game Tuesday.

North St. Paul has chosen not to play Eden Prairie over the coach's use of a racial slur. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images).
North St. Paul has chosen not to play Eden Prairie over the coach's use of a racial slur. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images).