Mississippi State has officially responded publicly to the brouhaha kicked up by their new head football coach.
Last Thursday, Mike Leach sent out a tweet in which he apologized for anyone he offended in a previous tweet. In the controversial tweet in question, the caption read “After 2 weeks of quarantine with her husband, Gertrude decided to knit him a scarf..” The picture attached to it? An elderly woman knitting a noose.
A handful of Leach’s followers were offended by the tweet. In response to Leach’s original tweet, Mississippi State football player Fabien Lovett wrote simply, “Wtf.” Lovett soon thereafter announced that he was entering the transfer portal; his father confirmed later that the tweet played a role. Monday, one of Lovett’s, Brevyn Jones, announced that he too will be transferring.
In the midst of that social media maelstrom, Mississippi State had been largely silent. Until now. In a statement, MSU athletic director John Cohen expressed disappointment in Leach’s tweet. He also stated that the university is confident that Leach has learned from what was described as a “misstep.”
Below is the statement, in its entirety.
No matter the context, for many Americans the image of a noose is never appropriate and that’s particularly true in the South and in Mississippi. Mississippi State University was disappointed in the use of such an image in a tweet by Coach Mike Leach. He removed the tweet and issued a public apology. The university is confident that Coach Leach is moving quickly and sincerely past this unintended misstep and will provide the leadership for our student-athletes and excitement for our football program that our fans deserve and that our students and alumni will be proud to support.
To ensure that Leach has learned from his “misstep,” Mississippi State also announced the following steps it will take when it comes to its head football coach.
Cohen said that a plan is in place for Coach Leach to participate in additional listening sessions with student, alumni, and community groups and to provide the coach with opportunities to expand his cultural awareness of Mississippi. One of those opportunities will include a guided visit to the “Two Museums” – the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum – in Jackson as soon as restrictions from the current public health crisis will allow.