Students, parents rally behind coach removed after basketball fight

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PITTSBURGH - Obama Academy basketball players, students and parents rallied Thursday and demanded answers as to why their basketball coach was ousted.

Channel 11's Alan Jennings reported Tuesday that Obama’s coach, Noran Jackson, was relieved of his duties following a fight at the Obama Academy vs. Allderdice game over the weekend.

According to witnesses, a fight at Friday night's game emptied the stands and involved some players from both teams. Witnesses said they estimated more than 100 people were involved in some way.

In a cellphone video obtained by Channel 11 News from the game, several adults are visible on the court. Some adults appear to be trying to separate others from fighting.

“The fans, as well as the players, went after the Obama players and parents. The Obama coaching staff attempted to protect their players,” parent Jason Matthews said.“To accuse Coach Jackson of inciting a riot is totally untrue and there is absolutely no equality in the decision the school board made.”

Students of Obama Academy crowded the sidewalk in front of the board of education building Thursday demanding to know why their “innocent” coach was kicked off the team.

“He’s like a father figure to some of the players on the team, including myself. My dad wasn’t really in my life a lot, but coach fills that void,” Obama Academy basketball player Deandre Byrd said.

According to Byrd, Jackson wasn’t involved in the fight, and he thinks he should be reinstated.

“Our coach wanted to avoid the whole situation and everybody ran out on the court and made a big scene,” captain of the basketball team Ted Bell said.

Sources from inside of the school district said Jackson used offensive language toward a school officer who tried to separate him from the fight, which contributed to the recommendation that he be removed.

Friday night is senior night, and the last home game of the year, for Obama. If nothing changes, Jackson won’t be there.

Jennings also reported that the Allderdice coach was suspended for two games following the incident.