NEWKIRK, Okla. (KFOR) -- Members of the Newkirk community are speaking out, defending a high school basketball announcer who was caught on camera making an inappropriate comment while announcing the names of the players from Crooked Oak High School.
"There is in no way, shape or form that he meant that in any sort of derogatory, or discriminatory manner," Tiata Rogers, who lives in Newkirk, told News 4.
Rogers is one of many long-time Newkirk residents standing behind a man they're calling a community staple.
"Steve is all about our kids in this community," Mike Ryan, another community member, said.
"He's just the salt of the earth here for Newkirk," Martin Trenary said.
The man they're talking about is now under fire for what he's heard saying in a viral video while volunteering as the announcer at a basketball tournament at Newkirk High School on Friday.
"The Crooked Oak Lady Ruff Nex…now their names are pretty disgusting," he's heard saying.
"We were like, we all looked at each other like, did he just say, is that real? Like did he really just say that?" Iyana Freeman, one of the players, said.
The superintendent for Newkirk Public Schools, Brady Barnes, sent News 4 this statement in response:
"While introducing players at Friday night’s girls high school basketball game, the District’s long-time announcer made an unfortunate and inappropriate personal comment concerning the names of some of the Crooked Oak players. In around 20 years of announcing Newkirk games, this is the first time something like this has occurred. While he did not make any similar comments, I made the decision to replace him at halftime of the girl’s basketball game.
To the Newkirk and Crooked Oak communities at large, I would like to say that this unfortunate comment does not represent the Newkirk Public Schools or its beliefs. We sincerely apologize for any pain or affront our announcer’s comment has caused Crooked Oak players, parents, patrons, and school employees.
Because this matter involves an employee of Newkirk Public Schools, I am not at liberty to speak on whatever personnel actions may be taken in the future."
"He has aged and age has all to do with what's going on right now," Ryan said.
Those who know him best claim the 80-year-old is not in great health. They said he simply misspoke.
"He did not realize that he said something wrong. He said disgusting instead of difficult," Ryan said.
Newkirk's mayor, Brian Hobbs, also weighed in.
"What the video doesn't show is his history with his health," Hobbs said. "I want the girls to know that were witnesses to this. It was nothing they did, I'm sure they're wonderful girls and it's very unfortunate."
News 4 asked the superintendent if the announcer is still with the district. He said he cannot comment on that because it is a personnel matter.