UT Cheer Coach Still on Paid Leave over Racist Remarks | Athletic Business

UT Cheer Coach Still on Paid Leave over Racist Remarks

A cheer coach at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has not returned to her job after being placed on paid leave back in June for making racially insensitive remarks.

Joy Postell-Gee, a longtime cheer coach at UT in Knoxville, was expected to return to duties on Dec. 31 but has yet to do so. Emails obtained by Knox News indicate the matter is still under investigation.

According to a Jan. 29, 2018, letter from Tyler Johnson, associate athletics director, to Postell-Gee, which was obtained by Knox News through an open records request, a report from the Office of Equity and Diversity "confirmed several instances of racially and ethnically insensitive remarks” by Postell-Gee to members of the spirit squad. 

A letter dated Feb 8, 2018, from Postell-Gee to several members of the athletics department admitted that there was a problem, saying she is "in total agreement that this is beyond a serious matter" and deserved her immediate attention.

"The letter indicates that if I fail to correct my behavior and actions, then I am subject to termination with no further warning," Postell-Gee wrote. "Thus, I am earnestly seeking your guidance and expertise as to what constitutes being verbally and mentally harassed, demeaning and insensitive comments, and mistreatment. I'm genuinely asking for clarification and insight." 

A Feb. 24, 2017, letter from Jennifer Richter, Title IX Coordinator, documented several instances where Postell-Gee's use of derogatory language, including an incident during the 2015-2016 season where a member of the spirit squad fell and cut the bridge of her nose. Postell-Gee saw his nose bleeding and made a racially insensitive remark, to which the team member replied, "That is the wrong culture." Postell-Gee then apologized to the student, according to the letter. 

Other incidents included Postell-Gee making insensitive comments and coming up with derogatory nicknames for members of the team. 

"Ms. Postell-Gee is still on paid administrative leave as this matter is still under investigation," said Tyra Haag, director of media relations for UT, in an email, noting that she did "not have a timeline as to when a decision will be made" about Postell-Gee's employment.

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