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Former Utah State interim coach Frank Maile addresses allegations of religious, cultural bias by university

Associated Press

Former Utah State interim coach Frank Maile addresses allegations of religious, cultural bias by university

By Sean Walker, KSL.com | Updated - Dec. 13, 2020 at 2:01 p.m. | Posted - Dec. 13, 2020 at 1:21 p.m.



LOGAN — Frank Maile has something he'd like to say.

After his final football game as interim head coach was canceled after Utah State's players elected to opt out of their game with Colorado State following allegations of racial and cultural bias by the university administration in the hiring search, Maile released a statement of regret through a public relations team saying he's "heartbroken" and "disheartened" by the recent spell of allegations.

Maile, who twice served as interim head coach at Utah State and most recently after the university fired Gary Andersen three weeks into the 2020 season, released a statement to the media through Salt Lake City-based public relations agency Wilkinson Ferrari and Co., whose clients have included Eccles Theater, Rio Tinto and others. The Aggies hired Blake Anderson on Saturday, and will introduce the former Arkansas State coach at a virtual press conference Monday in Logan.

"As disheartened as I am to learn that this kind of religious and cultural bias exists (because I am Polynesian) at Utah State University, I am equally heart-broken for my players – many of whom are seniors who were preparing for the last game of their collegiate experience," said Maile, a Utah native who played at Utah State after serving a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Dominican Republic. "I want to express my upmost respect and admiration for their decision to stand up for what they believe in — and I'm truly honored that they would stand up for me."

He said he was unaware of the Zoom call held Tuesday where Utah State University President Noelle Cockett allegedly made references to his "religious and cultural background" when describing why he would not be the next head coach for the Aggies. Whatever was said in the meeting, which was not recorded by the university, the players — including an anonymously-run player survey that found two-thirds of them would prefer to opt out of the final game of the season in defense of Maile, as first reported by Stadium.

Utah State plans to conduct an independent review of the situation, according to a statement Saturday from the university's board of trustees.

Here's Maile's full statement:

"As all college football fans likely know by now, Utah State University's final game of the season was cancelled yesterday after USU football players chose not to play in protest of something they feel very strongly about: discrimination and bias. It is my understanding — from members of the team leadership council who attended a meeting with Utah State President Noelle Cockett and Athletic Director John Hartwell — that I was not ultimately considered for the position of head coach at Utah State (my beloved alma mater) because of concerns that my religion and Pacific Islander culture would negatively impact the University's future football program. I have twice served as interim head coach and have gone through the interview process but was not notified of a formal hiring decision until after Noelle Cockett and John Hartwell met with the team.

"As disheartened as I am to learn that this kind of religious and cultural bias exists (because I am Polynesian) at Utah State University, I am equally heart-broken for my players – many of whom are seniors who were preparing for the last game of their collegiate experience. I want to express my upmost respect and admiration for their decision to stand up for what they believe in — and I'm truly honored that they would stand up for me.

"As we move forward, it is important to me to protect both the institution and players that I love. My only hope for this painful and unfortunate situation, is that it will be a positive step in our community's anti-discrimination journey. To accomplish this, Utah State University Trustees should demand a thorough and independent investigation of religious, cultural and racial discrimination throughout the Utah State University."

Cockett released her own statement through university officials hours after the first report, saying she was "devastated" by the reaction to her comments.

"I am devastated that my comments were interpreted as bias against anyone's religious background," said Cockett, the 16th president of Utah State University who assumed office in January 2017. "Throughout my professional career and, especially, as president of USU, I have welcomed the opportunity to meet directly and often with students about their experiences. Regardless of how difficult the conversations might be in the coming days, I remain committed to giving our students a voice."

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Sean Walker

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