Academic Magnet football coach Bud Walpole has reportedly been fired from his position after an investigation into post-game celebrations involving a watermelon were deemed “racist” by school officials.
The specific act in question was described by students as being “harmless” in nature, with no lingering connotations of anything other than superstition and a winning streak.
Academic Magnet student Darius Nwokike has started an online petition to reinstate Walpole as the schools head football coach. As of 1 p.m. Tuesday, the petition has amassed more than 1,200 signatures.
Nwokike sent a statement to ABC News 4 describing the situation that has since led to Walpole’s firing.
"The whole thing began when the football team started celebrating victories by smashing a watermelon and cheering in a circle to celebrate a hard-fought win," he said. "This was seen by a Charleston County School District official who deemed the act to be racist."
Support for Walpole is also coming from former players, who attest to his sincerity and dedication to the game of football. One former student, who played under Walpole for four years, posted an opinion to CNN’s iReport that heavily criticized the actions of the administration.
"These high school athletes were forced into a room one by one and questioned about their 'racist' acts. Since when is eating a watermelon racist? Since when does a school board have the right to interrogate students without notifying their parents? The way this situation has been handled can only be described as despicable," he wrote.
A press conference has been set up by the Charleston County School District to further address the firing of coach Walpole. Dr. Nancy McGinley is set to give the address at 3:15 p.m. in front of the district office in downtown Charleston.
The school district had been decently quiet about their decision up until Tuesday, when a full discussion will be had. So far the district has only released a small statement saying that a parent and a student found the post-game celebration to be “inappropriate,” which in turn led to the initial investigation.