A high school basketball referee was fired Wednesday after allegedly asking the coach of a majority-Hispanic team if his players had their green cards, according to the Arizona Daily Star.
The unidentified official reportedly made the comment before tip-off of a freshman game Tuesday night between Walden Grove High School and Pueblo High School. The official told the Arizona Interscholastic Association that he was just trying to make a joke.
"Most of the boys had never witnessed or been involved in this type of racism," said Patricia Coleman, the mother of one of Pueblo High School's players. "Breaks my heart that they had to be a part of this ugliness."
Pueblo High School, located in Tucson, has a student body that is 89 percent Hispanic.
The comment was reported by Tucson Unified School District director of interscholastics Herman House on Wednesday after complaints from parents, which led to the firing.
"I asked for the school to get me statements from everyone who had heard the conversation or had knowledge of the conversation," House told NBC News.
The alleged incident was also publicized by a parent on social media.
The referee was fired for being in violation of the AIA officials' code of conduct, which calls them to "uphold the honor and dignity of the avocation in all personal conduct and relationship with the student athletes, coaches, athletic directors, school administrators, colleagues, and the public and to be a worthy example to the athletes under one's jurisdiction."