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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley has been suspended indefinitely from the football program after it was made known that he had used a racial slur in a text message from 2013.
Scalley admitted to using a racial slur in a text message and said he “made a terrible mistake.” He added that immediately after he sent the message, he apologized to the individual and their family for language that was “offensive and hurtful to not only the African-American community, but to all.”
“I am also heartbroken over the potential breach of trust with my fellow coaches, and with the young men in our program, both past and present,” he said in a statement Friday. “I am truly sorry, and I own up to the hurtful effects of my choice.
“Through my actions and words going forward, I will demonstrate that my use of that slur in 2013 does not reflect or define who I am or what I stand for. My action is indefensible and I will use my voice and position to bring about meaningful and much-needed change.”
Utah Athletic Director Mark Harlan said he was made aware of the incident on Wednesday and initiated a conversation with university President Ruth Watkins, who agree to allow an outside review of the incident. Harlan decided to suspend Scalley while the university conducts a review of the incident and to see if it was an isolated incident.
Scalley said he accepts the suspension.
“Coach Scalley and I have spoken. He is very contrite and acknowledged that the text was sent and that it did include a derogatory and painful word,” Harlan said in a statement. “The use of any form of racist language is not only antithetical to our policies and our values, but it is an affront to all of us, especially our African-American community members.”
Head coach Kyle Whittingham added that he was “disappointed and shocked” to learn of the incident.
“I take very seriously the hurt, pain and anger felt by African-Americans, and the power of words to inflict or deepen that pain,” he added. “Although this incident is inconsistent with the character and conduct of the person I have known and worked closely with for more than two decades, Morgan’s use of racist language is a very serious matter and I am supportive of the suspension while a more thorough outside review is conducted.”
Earlier this week, Scalley tweeted about the "senseless, cruel killing of George Floyd."
"Many of my dearest friends and brothers are men of color, and I can't imagine my life without their love or influence," the tweet said. "I think of the young men of color I have coached, and continue to coach, and am heartbroken that any of them would have to live with the very real fear that racism presents.
"Our nation has to be better," he continued. "I'm grateful for a Utah Football Family that embraces the strength that diversity provides, and the powerful love it evokes!"
Former Utah safety Julian Blackmon, who played four years under Scalley as his defensive coordinator, tweeted Friday that his former coach is not a racist.
"Just unlucky cause of the platform he’s on. As well as what’s already going on in America," Blackmon said. "Hard to judge cause most of us say things in private that don’t get exposed like this. All love."
Terrell Burgess, another former Utah safety, added his support for Scalley in a tweet:
"(Scalley) is a great coach but an even better human being. This man may be a lot of things like hard nosed and loud but one thing for sure is he isn’t racist. Obviously whatever was said is unacceptable but this does not portray the great character and warm heart he has✊🏾"
One-time Utah commit and current BYU football player Khyiris Tonga chimed in on Twitter as well about Scalley.
"During my recruitment with Utah, Coach Scalley treated my family and I with the utmost respect at all times. Even during my mission, he was always there. He’s a great coach and even better man. I’m sad to see this but I hope he’s able to return and continue to do what he does!"
Love you coach. Just know I played for this guy and I can assure you he’s not a racist. Just unlucky cause of the platform he’s on. As well as what’s already going on in America. Hard to judge cause most of us say things in private that don’t get exposed like this. All love. https://t.co/ZdUa0qdKsu— Jülian Blackmon (@JumpManJu32) June 6, 2020