February 1st, 2018 – An Appalachian State University tennis coach and player were suspended following an alleged racist comment directed at member of a rival team over the weekend. During the match between Appalachian State and the predominately black, North Carolina A&T University, Appalachian State freshman, Spencer Brown, who is white, is reported to have told his opponent, “At least I know my dad.” NC A&T student, John Wilson, posted an account of the exchange on his Twitter page which prompted Appalachian State officials to act.
Hey #NCAT this is Spencer brown, a tennis player at Appalachian state. During our match today, along with other racist comments, Spencer told me, “At least I know my dad.” Their coach responded by saying, “..we have a black guy on our team.”
Black twitter, do ya thing. pic.twitter.com/ZRN61zCU2n
— John Wilson IV (@jpheze) January 29, 2018
After the conclusion of the match, the university conducted a review of the incident and levied the suspensions.
“This student-athlete has been suspended indefinitely from the team, effective immediately, for violating the student-athlete discipline policy.”
Our Chancellor just sent out this letter. Head coach & player suspended and a third-party is being invited in to evaluate our diversity practices. Again, I’m sorry this incident happened to you and your team. pic.twitter.com/bLvbbJn84b
— Will Strickland (@WillStrickland2) January 30, 2018
When confronted the Appalachian State coach, Bob Lake, is reported to have replied, “We have a black guy on our team.” Describing Brown’s behavior as “derogatory” and “offensive,” the school issued a public apology for their student and faculty member’s actions. While no specific comment was made, Lake’s suspension came one day after Brown’s.
The school’s chancellor, Sheri Everts, went on to say in a written statement:
“Our entire student body deserves an environment that fosters and supports their academic and personal development. Your university leadership is committed to ensuring this environment at all levels.”
The school also made a pledge to examine its practices in terms of inclusion and outreach to students of color. This is only the most recent example of college students being publicly outed for making racist comments. Many students have gone so far as to actually share video of themselves engaged in racist behavior.
After immediate uproar online, the consequences in these incidents have ranged from suspension to expulsion as in the case of co-ed, Harley Barber, who was dismissed from both her sorority and the University of Alabama for a expletive-laced anti-black rant posted on one of her social media accounts.
According to Yahoo Sports coverage of the event, Brown beat Wilson, 6-1, 6-1, at No. 4 singles, and Appalachian State swept the match 7-0.
Did Appalachian State make the right decision by suspending Spencer Brown?