One of the longest-tenured high school football referees in Texas apologized on Thursday after audio recordings of his N-word usage went public.
On Tuesday, the Houston Chronicle followed up on their initial report with the update that referee Mike Atkinson was suspended for the 2019 season by the Texas Association of Sports Officials.
“Atkinson, who owns Atkinson Farms in Spring and has been a high school football official for 45 years, admits to using the N-word several times in conversations, audio clips of which were provided to the Houston Chronicle by the person who made the recordings,” the newspaper reported.
“Atkinson’s racist comments cited in the lawsuit can be heard in a series of audio clips recorded within the past year from his telephone conversations with another high school official who has a disciplinary dispute with TASO, and that evidence led TASO to impose probation and then increase it to a year,” the Chronicle noted.
At the time, Atkinson’s defense was that the person he was talking with also used the N-word.
“I thought these were private conversations between friends,” Atkinson argued. “I promise you with my life, using the N-word by me is true, but I will promise you with my life, my wife’s life, my kids’ life and everything I do, (the person who taped him) also used that word.”
Now, Atkinson is apologizing, Fox-26 TV reports.
“I’m awfully embarrassed about the situation,” Atkinson said.
“I owe everyone an apology,” he said, without actually apologizing.
“It’s really not me to make them (sic) kind of statements. And I just need to owe everyone an apology,” Atkinson continued.
Listen to the graphic audio recording: