Creighton University has suspended its men’s basketball head coach Greg McDermott, who apologized earlier this week for making what he said was a “terribly inappropriate analogy” about a plantation when talking to his team following a loss on Saturday.
“Specifically, I said: ‘Guys, we got to stick together. We need both feet in. I need everybody to stay on the plantation. I can’t have anybody leave the plantation,'” McDermott said in a statement posted to Twitter on Tuesday.
The coach said he made the remarks in the locker room after an “emotionally tough loss” and immediately recognized his mistake.
In a statement Thursday, Creighton’s athletic director Bruce Rasmussen said McDermott had made remarks “that were not in alignment with Creighton’s commitment to racial equity, diversity and respect.” Rasmussen said he and the university’s president. had discussed “appropriate sanctions.”
“Coach McDermott and the team have accepted that, effective immediately, he is suspended from all team activities, including Saturday’s home season finale against Butler. Further sanctions remain under consideration, not all of which will be shared publicly,” Rasmussen said in the statement, which was posted to Twitter.
Apologizing Tuesday, McDermott said he was deeply sorry for using the plantation analogy.
“I immediately recognized my egregious mistake and quickly addressed my use of such insensitive words with the team,” McDermott said in his statement on Twitter.
“I have never used that analogy and it is not indicative of who I am as a person or as a coach. I am deeply sorry. I have apologized to our student-athletes and to our staff, as well as to President Hendrickson and Director of Athletics Bruce Rasmussen.”
Creighton also released a statement Tuesday, saying “any disciplinary action will remain confidential.”
“While an apology is a start, and while we believe this was out of character for Coach McDermott, in no way does it diminish the fact that his remark was hurtful to many and has absolutely no place in the Creighton community,” the Tuesday statement said.
‘A dark and hurtful history’
Creighton assistant coach Terrence Rencher released a statement the same day through Coaches For Action, which was founded by 21 assistant coaches in the Big East Conference “on a shared mission to use the platform of athletics to educate and bring awareness to social injustices,” according to the group’s website.
Rencher said he was deeply hurt by McDermott’s remarks.
“While my relationship with Coach has been positive and I have never witnessed any racist energy from him, what he said was wrong and insensitive. ‘Plantation’ had a dark and hurtful history in my community and cannot be overlooked,” he said.
Rancher said part of his job was to help players achieve their potential.
“Part of that growth is dealing with the horrible and uncomfortable truths about racism in our world and in basketball,” he said.
Rencher added later in his statement: “The players have decided that they want to continue to chase their goals on the court this season with Coach McDermott and I support their wishes and will continue to pour my heart into coaching them and helping them deal with larger issues.”
Creighton men’s assistant coach Al Huss will serve as interim head coach during McDermott’s suspension, according to the statement by Rasmussen.
The statement from the university did not give the length of the coach’s suspension.