DENVER — The Colorado High School Activities Association has been ordered to pay a former Sand Creek basketball coach $2.5 million for its violation of federal race discrimination laws, a jury ruled last Friday.
The Colorado U.S. District Court case stemmed from CHSAA’s explanation for Falcon School District 49’s firing of Trey Harris, the plaintiff, following Sand Creek’s use of an ineligible transfer player in 2017.
Harris was fired in January of that year for his role in the transfer. The player was initially ruled eligible to play by CHSAA, which later reversed its decision after the player had competed. But Harris, who had trained the player as a middle schooler a few years prior, said as an assistant coach he had no role in the transfer and that he was blamed during the controversy because he’s Black.
The jury agreed. It awarded Harris $200,000 for economic damages, $1.3 million for non-economic damages and $1 million for punitive damages, all due to race discrimination, according to online court records.
As a result of the 2017 transfer violation, CHSAA placed Sand Creek on a restriction, which would have prevented the team from competing in the playoffs. That restriction was later lifted. Court documents show Harris was told by Falcon 49 school district officials that his firing was a CHSAA condition for the program’s restriction being lifted.