Wake high school football coach resigns after making racist comments on Instagram video

An assistant football coach at Knightdale High School in Wake County has resigned after he posted a video on Instagram over the weekend where he is heard making racist comments.

John Hoskins, who is white, was at a bar celebrating the team’s win against Corinth Holders High School. In a now-deleted video on Instagram, he is heard shouting: “White power, Knightdale. I still love you, (n-word),” according to ABC11, The News & Observer’s media partner, who obtained the video.

Before he deleted the video, it was shared with school administrators, ABC11 reports. The next day, he submitted his resignation, ABC11 reported.

“Just to set the record, I’m not racist,” Hoskins told ABC11 on Tuesday. “I don’t mean it in a negative way.”

But Wake County school leaders condemned the remarks, including the chairman of the school board. Tuesday, Knightdale principal Keith Richardson sent a message to the school’s families and said the comments “do not reflect our values at Knightdale High School and will not be tolerated.”

He said he is “greatly dismayed and disappointed to see this type of behavior and mindset from someone in a position of trust.”

“It is the responsibility of a coach to uphold the highest standards of behavior,” Richardson told families. “They are role models to our children on and off the field and are trusted to coach our students with the utmost integrity. When a staff member breaks that trust, it is deeply upsetting.

“Furthermore, using the language of white supremacy stirs up feelings of fear, intimidation and threats of racial violence.”

Wake school board response

At Tuesday’s school board meeting, school board chairman Jim Martin acknowledged the situation.

“Again, a very significant and severe racist incident occurred over the weekend,” Martin said. “From this board, I want it to be clear that any such racist engagements, whether it’s from staff or students, are inappropriate, not accepted and wrong.

“I want to acknowledge it and thank Superintendent (Cathy) Moore for engaging right away. Action has been taken and we will continue to move forward in this collective work for all of us to build a school system that is welcoming and frankly worthy of all the citizens of Wake County.”

Hoskins told ABC11 that he was caught up in a celebratory moment with friends both black and white. He said some of his black friends have said over the years they’ve known him that it’s OK for him to say the racial slur.

“I mean nothing from it,” Hoskins told ABC11.

Racial controversy

It’s the latest racially charged controversy the Wake County school system has addressed.

Last month, a 14-year-old black student at East Wake High School went public about how she posed as a white student in an online group chat that included two students at her school and five at Corinth Holders High.

The group chat included racial slurs, talk about shooting black people and killing black babies and comments such as #BringSlaveryBack.

The East Wake incident caused the school system to send a letter to all its employees condemning the remarks.

Hoskins, who wasn’t a teacher or full-time staff member at Knightdale High, told ABC11 he resigned to avoid being a distraction for the team. Hoskins said the players on the majority-black team also seemed to accept the words.

”They joke around,” Hoskins told ABC11. “We joke around. They walk up to me and say it. ‘Hey coach, just say it. You’re a good coach. Just say it.’ Once in a while, it slips,”

But Richardson said in his message that school counselors are available to meet with football players and other students to help them talk through their emotions and reactions, if needed.

“It is important at this time that we make sure we listen to our football players and our student body as a whole to understand how racist comments like these affect them, and then provide the support and services they need,” Richardson said.

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T. Keung Hui has covered K-12 education for the News & Observer since 1999, helping parents, students, school employees and the community understand the vital role education plays in North Carolina. His primary focus is Wake County, but he also covers statewide education issues.