NBC

Commentary on High School Football Website Causes Controversy

Comments made during the broadcast of a high school football game between Arlington Seguin High School and Cleburne High School are causing controversy.

A now former commentator for JacketRadio.com, Mark Banton, has stepped down after using the term "coogrows" when referencing the football players at Seguin.

"When asked if he called the Seguin players, 'Cougroes' — apparently a combination of Seguin's mascot, the Cougar, with negroes — Banton said: 'I have nothing to say about it,'" the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

Banton responded to requests for comment from NBC 5 with an e-mail statement:

"The term 'Coogrows' — which I used Friday — has never crossed my mind as being racially offensive," Banton wrote. "We college football fans make fun of each others' nicknames/mascots all the time. We Texas fans have always called Houston the 'coogrows' or 'Cooger High.'"

In an audio recording of the broadcast obtained by the Star Telegram, Banton can also be heard talking about a cheerleader and referencing the weight loss program of Jenny Craig.

"With regard to the line referring to Jenny Craig — I will concur that this was out of line," Banton wrote. "I will contend however, that nobody called a name, referred to a race or referred to anyone in particular."

Banton went on to apologize to players, coaches, parents, cheerleaders and administrators.

"That is not me. It is not my heart, my nature or my personality," he wrote.

The Seguin High School football team is using the controversy as a life lesson.

"I ask them just to tune out the rest of the world and come together like never before," said coach Joe Gordon.

"Many things like that happen all the time and every day, and it's not about what happens, but how you respond," said freshman football player Xavier Gordon.

"How I see it is that if you [have] a negative mindset, then negative things are going to come out. But if you attack it with a positive mindset, positive things are going to come out," added sophomore football player Dionte Pleasant.

The Cleburne Independent School District said JacketRadio.com is not affiliated with the school district.

"Remarks expressed were totally uncalled for, and we apologize for any embarrassment and hurt they may have caused to the football program, cheerleaders, students and staff of Arlington-Seguin High School, and Arlington ISD," JacketRadio.com posted on its website.

"I have voluntarily removed myself from future broadcasts, for which I never received any type of financial remuneration inasmuch as we were simply providing a service," Banton wrote.

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