Members of the Pope John Paul II girls basketball team were suspended Friday after a video was posted to social media of players singing a song with offensive lyrics Thursday night.
All players received a one-game suspension, as did first-year head coach TJ Lonergan.
The incident occurred on the team bus after the Golden Panthers’ win over Owen J. Roberts in a Pioneer Athletic Conference playoff quarterfinal on Thursday, Feb. 7.
“The matter took place on the bus and involved team members singing a song containing lyrics that are highly offensive and featuring content that runs counter to the moral teaching and ideals of the school community,” said Archdiocese of Philadelphia Chief Communications Officer Ken Gavin in an email. “Team members filmed the objectionable activity and (placed) it on social media, which represents a violation of the Acceptable Use of Technology policy.”
The song on the video was “Kanga” by 6ix9ine, according to sources.
The Pope John Paul II administration became aware of the video on Friday evening and delivered the suspensions. Team parents were informed of the violations and suspensions on Friday night.
“Administration determined that each player will serve a one game suspension, served either on February 9th or the next scheduled game,” said Gavin. “All players will attend and dress for each game. The coaching staff was tasked with determining which players will serve suspensions for which games.”
On Feb. 9, the Golden Panthers faced Spring-Ford in a Pioneer Athletic Conference semifinal. PJP’s “next scheduled game” is a District 1 Class 5A playoff game on Tuesday, Feb. 19. Unofficially, No. 11 seed Pope John Paul II would travel to No. 6 seed Great Valley.
Pope John Paul II held out eight players — its five starters and first three off the bench — for the PAC semifinal on Feb. 9. The result was a non-competitive 71-21 Spring-Ford victory.
“The actions of the team and the nature of their behavior is deeply concerning and contrary to the expectations and ideals to which PJP students are held,” stated Gavin. “This disciplinary action holds the team accountable while individual student disciplinary actions may be taken after the school has completed its review and assessed further potential Student Handbook violations.”
It is the second consecutive school year Pope John Paul II High School has required disciplinary action for an offensive video being posted to social media.