Norfolk State Basketball Coach Robert Jones Says His Player Was Called N-Word During Illinois State Game
Overshadowing Norfolk State's Dec. 9 64-58 win against Illinois State was an ugly incident that occurred during the second half of the game.
Norfolk State’s men’s basketball program has been quietly having a stellar season competing in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), compiling a 7-3 record including an upset win against VCU. Overshadowing the team’s Dec. 9 64-58 win against Illinois State was an ugly incident that occurred during the second half of the game. As HBCU Sports reported, at the 8:15 mark of the second half, Norfolk State guard Jamarii Thomas exchanged words with some Illinois State fans while the ball was out of play. The officials later ejected the fans after they had determined that the fans crossed a line when jawing at Thomas from their seats. Thomas finished the game leading all scorers with 31 points while shooting 7/18 from the field and 15/17 from the free throw stripe.
On the broadcast, the commentary team said that the fans made comments of a “racial nature” and following the incident, both head coaches received technical fouls after getting into a shouting match. Jones had stepped onto the hardwood during the stoppage in play, presumably to obtain clarification from the officials about what was going on, when for some reason, Illinois State Head Coach Ryan Perdon started an altercation with Jones and the two men had to be separated as their respective benches were cleared.
Jones, in an effort to clarify exactly what happened, posted on Twitter/X following the game, “I’m not letting anybody call my players a racial slur,” Jones wrote. “Those are my kids and I will fight for them. We have come too far in society to be called the N word at [a] college basketball game.”
For his part in the scuffle, Perdon addressed the media after the game, attempting to explain why he was upset that Jones came onto the floor, saying, “I was upset he was on the floor and I was raising hell with the referees. It was never personal towards him. I’ll just leave it at that. I’ll take the high road on that.” Perdon continued, “I’m a competitor, man. I’m an Italian, so sometimes my emotions can get the best of me at times, but I don’t apologize for my competitive edge and that’s how I want our teams to play.” Illinois State University has yet to condemn the alleged actions of the fans at the game against Norfolk State.