Hours after he was fired from his job as Olathe North High School’s head baseball coach on Monday, Pete Flood admitted that he did use a racial slur before a game.
But he claims it was not directed toward a student. He said he was denouncing the “offensive and derogatory” lyrics in a rap song the student was playing during practice.
“Never, never, never have I ever used the ‘N-word’ or any other racial slur to address a student, player, or person in my entire twenty-five year career in this district nor my personal life,” Flood said in an email to The Star.
But the father of the student, who reported the incident, said Flood’s version is incorrect and demeans his son. Instead, he places his trust in the school district’s investigation.
The Olathe school board unanimously voted Monday morning to immediately terminate Flood’s teaching contract and employment from all positions he holds in the district. Administrators recommended firing Flood following an investigation into reports that the coach made a racist remark to the team’s only Black player.
The player’s father, Tony Banks, said that last Thursday, his son was playing rap music through speakers during batting practice before a game against Olathe South. Banks claimed that Flood walked up to his son and told him, “We don’t play that N----- music over here. We only play country and rock music.”
In an email and interview Monday afternoon, Flood told The Star that he was misquoted by players on the team.
“On May 6th, a player from my team was playing music on a loudspeaker. As I walked by the speaker, the lyrics of the song said, ‘[expletives] and ‘N-----.’ As you could imagine; I was shocked and offended, and asked him to turn it off,” Flood said in the email.
“When that didn’t immediately occur, I repeated, ‘Turn that off, we are not going to play music that says ‘[expletives] and N-----’. Change the song, change the artist, change the genre. … I don’t care, just turn that sh*t off.’ At this point, he turned it off and I continued on to observe the sub-varsity practice.”
“… In my opinion, these types of lyrics should never be played in a public venue at a school event.”
“I deeply regret that I repeated the N-word aloud; however, I do not regret requesting that a song with such offensive and derogatory language be turned off.”
In an interview Monday, Banks said he was angry hearing Flood’s claims.
“If that were the case, Coach would not be fired,” Banks said. “The principal, the (athletic director), the administration, they all did their own research and they came to a conclusion.”
Banks said that his son, a senior, has been academically and athletically successful during high school. He will attend Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, this fall.
Banks said he felt Flood’s claims were an attempt to “derail my son’s future.”
“To make that statement is an attempt by this coach to paint a face on my son that’s not there,” Banks said. “We really wanted to move beyond this. We’re not attention-seekers. But we’re not going to sit back and let him falsely destroy our son. I don’t have to sweat because the people who know (my son), know that’s not his character. That’s not how he operates.”
“Every kid who listens to rap is not a troubled kid.”
Since the incident was shared on social media last week, thousands called for the district to fire Flood and prohibit him from coaching again.
“I am deeply ashamed and outraged to learn about this. It is inexcusable on every level,” school board president Joe Beveridge said on Monday.
“Anyone who demonstrates racism and bigotry like this has no place in our district.”
Flood had been employed by the school district since 1996, spokeswoman Maggie Kolb said Friday. He served in several roles during his tenure, including as an assistant coach with the Olathe North football team in 2003. He took over as head coach in 2006, but resigned from that position in 2011.
Flood said he also coached football and baseball at Saint Thomas Aquinas High School, roughly from 2014 through 2018. Kolb said that Flood started as Olathe North’s head baseball coach this school year. And he taught in various capacities, including as a history teacher, and in special education and physical education.
Kolb on Monday declined to provide details of the district’s investigation.