The West Virginia governor is standing up against a press in court for describing a high school girls' basketball team as "rackets" after an ugly argument ended a game.
Governor Jim Justice said the allegations that Tuesday's comments about Woodrow Wilson High School players played a role were "utterly absurd," a statement released on Wednesday. Woodrow was familiar with Greenbrier East High School, where Justice is a volunteer trainer.
"My definition of a thug is clear – it means violence, bullying, and disorderly behavior," Justice said. “And we, as West Virginiaers, shouldn't have any tolerance for this kind of behavior. Anyone who would accuse them of having made a racial fraud is completely absurd. "
While he said he was sad that Woodrow girls were in close combat in the middle of the game, Justice said he was proud that he, his team and their coaches "in no way, shape, form or fashion" into the Fracas were involved.
A co-trainer was led by the state police over an officer’s disability after the fourth quarter breakout, Justice said. The governor did not identify this trainer, but Woodrow's assistant trainer Gene Nabors and a fan were involved in the outbreak just behind Woodrow's bank, The Register-Herald reports.
Nabors then took his team off the pitch and the game was later interrupted after a long delay, the newspaper said. Greenbrier East led 56-50 with 5:45 in the fourth quarter when the game was called.
When asked about the game after the incident, Justice didn't hold back.
"I hate to say it differently, but to be honest with God the truth is what happened to Woodrow two different times for the Woodrow players," said the Republican governor of the newspaper. "They are a bunch of thugs. The whole team left the bench, the coach is in a fight, they got off the floor, they called the game!"
Justice added, "You don't know how to act, and at the end of the day you got what you got."
Two coaches for Woodrow are black men, the newspaper said.
At least one legislator, delegate Mike Pushkin, has asked the judiciary to apologize.
"Pro tip: spend more time as governor during the session and less time making thinly veiled racist insults … and apologize," said Pushkin twittered,