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Opposing coach: Ohio basketball team thought racist jerseys were a 'funny joke'

An opposing coach is speaking out now that the jerseys have gained national attention.

A youth basketball team, booted from an independent recreational league for racist and sexist jerseys, wore the same offensive jerseys during a Dec. 17 game against Milford, according to that team's coach.

The jerseys went unreported for the first three games of the season until a parent from an opposing team raised concerns after a game this past Sunday.

The delay has prompted questions from the community about why no one reported the jerseys earlier.

Milford coach Jason DiTullio said he reported the jerseys to referees and took pictures. He looked for, and couldn't find, a representative from Cincinnati Premier Youth Basketball League in the gym where about 10 people were in the stands.

He said he meant to say something to the league and send them pictures, but forgot with the Christmas holiday approaching. He said he wishes he would have spoken to league officials earlier.

After the December game, DiTullio said he shook hands with the coach and players to be sportsmanlike and set an example for his team.

He walked up to the player with the “Knee Grow” jersey.

RELATED | Ohio team kicked out of league for 'offensive' basketball jerseys

“I said that is so provocative and unacceptable,” DiTullio said. “They just laughed. They thought it was a funny joke.”

DiTullio confronted the player wearing the jersey with “Coon” on the back. He got the same laughing reaction to his statement of disapproval.

The coach for the other team said nothing in response, DiTullio said.

"Wet Dream Team" coach Walt Gill didn't return phone or e-mail messages on Tuesday.

On Monday, the league issued a statement on his behalf: "We sincerely apologize to anyone that was offended by the jerseys. We offered to cover them up or change, however the league saw fit to remove us and we have accepted that decision."

The team, officially known as Kings Gill VB-R, isn't operated by a school district, but pays to play in local gyms.

Cincinnati Premier Youth Basketball League spokesman Ben Goodyear said no one reported the jerseys in the first three games of the season.

Goodyear could not be immediately reached Tuesday evening for further comment.

The “unsportsmanlike” and overly “physical” style of play exhibited by Kings players in some ways overshadowed the jersey names at the time, too, DiTullio said.

Most of the 10 players on each of the two teams were probably juniors or seniors, he said. The recreation league is meant to be about having fun with friends rather than being a competitive score-keeping exercise, DiTullio said.

A Milford player's nose was bloodied and another got a scratch on his face, DiTullio said. A Milford player who sometimes falls and “isn't the best player” was taunted with verbal insults from Kings on the court and a group of five teens in the stands.

“During the game, it became very physical,” he said. “The sportsmanship was very terrible.”

DiTullio said he focused on calming his players during and after the game.

“Our guys, we started taunting back,” DiTullio said. “I said that's not us.”

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