Creighton men’s basketball coach Greg McDermott apologized Tuesday for racially insensitive remarks he made this past weekend that included “a terribly inappropriate analogy,” he said on his Twitter account.
“Specifically, I said: ‘Guys, we got to stick together,’ ” McDermott tweeted. ” ‘We need both feet in. I need everybody to stay on the plantation. I can’t have anybody leave the plantation.’ “
The word “plantation” carries racist overtones for its connotations of slavery and repression.
“I immediately recognized my egregious mistake and quickly addressed my use of such insensitive words with the team,” he wrote. “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.”
McDermott’s comments came after then No. 11 Creighton’s 77-69 loss to Big East rival Xavier. The Blue Jays fell one spot in this week’s Ferris Mowers Coaches Poll.
Earlier last week in a win against DePaul, McDermott was one of many Division I coaches to wear a towel over his shoulder bearing the image of former Georgetown coach John Thompson, the first Black coach to win a men’s basketball NCAA national championship.
In a statement, Creighton said McDermott used “deplorable language that is inconsistent with the university’s values and commitment to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment.”
While the school acknowledged the language was out of character for McDermott, Creighton said an apology was just a start. It also said any disciplinary action would be confidential.
The Blue Jays play at No. 9 Villanova on Wednesday night.
“Over the last 72 hours, I have engaged in multiple difficult conversations with student athletes, staff, parents, and University administrators and I realize the pain that my words have caused,” McDermott said in his tweet. “For that, I sincerely apologize.
“I am committed to ensure that this will never happen again and am using this as a learning experience. While there remains work to be done and trust to earn back, I appreciate our student-athletes’ honesty and will maintain an open dialogue as we grow and learn together.”
Creighton’s coach since 2010, McDermott has gone 248-122 with the Blue Jays and made five trips to the NCAA Tournament, advancing three times to the second round.
Terrence Rencher, and assistant coach at Creighton and member of the “Coaches For Action” organization, also released a statement on the incident.
“I am deeply hurt by his words,” Rencher, who is Black, said in his statement. “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.
“Right now my focus is on the players and supporting them in any way that they need my support. As we have been reminded ‘It’s more than a game.’ “
Rencher added that Blue Jays 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.”
Follow colleges reporter Paul Myerberg on Twitter @PaulMyerberg