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Rick Parker, USU Athletics, File

Utah State suspends football player for 'inappropriate racial comments'

By Sean Walker, KSL.com | Updated - Jul. 6, 2020 at 12:30 p.m. | Posted - Jul. 5, 2020 at 10:24 p.m.



LOGAN — Utah State’s football program has suspended a player during an investigation into “inappropriate racial comments” he allegedly made, the program announced Sunday evening.

The university did not identify the player in question.

“We have been made aware of inappropriate racial comments made by a current student-athlete on our football team,” read a joint statement from athletic director John Hartwell and head coach Gary Andersen. “This will not be tolerated and we have suspended the individual immediately, and pending an investigation will take appropriate action.”

The school did not identify the nature of the comments in question.

KSL.com has confirmed the identity of the player based on several social media posts, screenshots and confirmation from those involved, but has chosen not to identify the player, pending the investigation.

The athletic department has spent significant time over the past month to address concerns of racial inequality in the wake of nationwide protests sparked by the killing of Minneapolis resident George Floyd while in police custody. In a statement from June 3, the Aggies praised a locker room “diverse in background, race, and beliefs” for its “equal opportunity, togetherness and respect.”

“Recent events in our country remind us of the privilege we have to be coaches and of our responsibility as educators,” a statement read. “Though not perfect, we strive to build a culture of love, respect and opportunity for all. We strive to treat each young man as if they are our very own. Our goals for them include success academically, socially and athletically on the field and beyond football. The experiences we have with our team provide some of the most meaningful relationships we have in this life.

“Meaningful change will come as we take responsibility for ourselves to be better. As a staff, we are committed to being a part of the solution by cultivating attitudes of understanding, fostering respect, creating opportunity for all, and working to build bridges that unite us as individuals, as the Aggie football family, and as citizens of our nation.”

The university has also conducted a series of video interviews during the coronavirus pandemic, including one with defensive back Andre Grayson that touched on systemic issues around racial inequality.

“I tried to come out here open-minded. I knew where I was coming. I’m from Southern California, a very diverse area, and coming out here, I knew that I would be coming to a place that was predominantly white,” Grayson said. “Coming with an open mind and open heart has been the best thing for me. I’ve met people and I’ve learned that this community is full of people who care and are loving. It’s different than where I came from.”

Other student-athletes have also spoken out on their racial experiences.

“With everything going on, it’s made me reflect on my life and times I’ve been mistreated,” added sophomore Emma Cobabe, a gymnast who prepped at Olympus High. “It’s made me sad, but it’s also inspiring to see so many people from different races fighting for a better future.

“I think things are going to get better for everybody.”

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