Football coach reinstated after controversial 'watermelon ritual'

Coach Bud Walpole, left, was fired after a controversial post-game ritual upset parents. iReporter Harry Griffin, right, played on the coach's team a few years ago.

Story highlights

  • High school football coach fired after controversial "watermelon ritual"
  • Players would smash a watermelon and make "monkey sounds" after games
  • Local NAACP supported the school's decision to fire Bud Walpole
  • Former football player Harry Griffin shared this story with CNN iReport
UPDATE: High school football coach Bud Walpole was offered his job back, effective Thursday, CNN affiliate WCBD reported. The school district superintendent invited him back Wednesday only after Walpole submitted a written commitment to focus more on diversity and sensitivity training, according to a statement.
A high school football coach in Charleston, South Carolina, was fired after he permitted a post-game celebratory ritual involving a watermelon that some say is racist.
After a parent reported the "watermelon ritual" to the school board, the Charleston County School District launched an investigation and ultimately fired Academic Magnet High School coach Bud Walpole, according to CNN affiliate WCSC.
"Players would gather in a circle and smash the watermelon while others were either standing in a group or locking arms and making chanting sounds described as, 'Ooh, ooh, ooh,'" school district Superintendent Nancy McGinley said, describing the noises as "monkey sounds." The watermelon was decorated with caricatures drawn with Sharpie markers, she added.
Dot Scott, president of the Charleston branch of the NAACP, said the organization supported the school's decision to fire Walpole. Scott thanked the superintendent at a Wednesday press conference "for her swift attention to an inappropriate and racially insensitive ritual performed by the football team."
The school district has not yet responded to CNN's request for comment.
A number of parents and students, however, are standing in support of Walpole, who coached at the school for 10 years. More than 4,000 people have signed a petition to reinstate the ousted coach, as of Wednesday afternoon.
Some say they don't see the ritual as racist.