A University of Portland men’s tennis player took his "locker room talk" to the stage at the school’s athletics awards banquet. As a result, he's been kicked off the tennis team.
According to an op-ed written by Olivia Sanchez, a UP senior student-athlete and managing editor at the The Beacon, Goutham Sundaram, also a senior at UP, was set to be the emcee for the Wally Awards. Sanchez called the banquet, and Sundaram’s opening speech, “the most disturbing experience” of her time at the school.
“Sundaram’s speech detailed his sexual pursuits during the last four years and explicitly stated that his main goal throughout college was not academic or even athletic, but sexual: to get white women to sleep with brown men,” Sanchez wrote, noting that Sundaram opened by saying he was going to “make the stage [his] locker room.”
Sundaram’s speech was apparently so offensive that many student-athletes, including Sanchez and several men’s basketball players, as well as head basketball coach Terry Porter, walked out of the event.
According to Sanchez’s op-ed, Sundaram used phrases such as “Go brown and turn your frown upside down.” Sanchez said she had to leave the event after Sundaram said, “Go French and your panties get drenched,” referring to his French teammates. He also suggested that his parents’ immigration to the United States would only be worth it if he could “hook up with a white girl.”
Men’s head tennis head coach Aaron Gross apologized for Sundaram’s speech, telling the audience that Sundaram’s views do not represent those of the tennis team or the school.
Rob Connor, UP cross country coach, was presented the coach of the year award and was seated next to Gross in the front row. Sanchez admonished both coaches, as well as UP’s senior associate athletic director and senior woman administrator, Karen Peters, who was also on hand, for allowing the speech to proceed.
“They sat in the front row. And did nothing,” Sanchez wrote, adding that Sundaram’s speech was “locker room talk” that made her feel violated and dehumanized.
Peters later sent a school-wide email apologizing for the speech. The email also included an apology from Sundaram. “I would like to address what happened at the Wally's last night," Sundaram wrote. "I want to apologize for taking away from the focus of the night. The night is meant to celebrate the excellence of student-athletes and I would like to apologize if I made any people uncomfortable."