Auburn Coach Apologizes to Former Gymnasts

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Auburn University gymnastics head coach Jeff Graba has issued an apology after three former gymnasts came forward this week about their experience with racism at the university.

A’Miracal Phillips, Telah Black and Kennedy Finister posted their stories of alleged racism to Instagram this week. Phillips competed at Auburn from 2016-19, while Black was on the team from 2016-18 and Finister was on the roster from 2013-18 but never competed, according to

“Growing up in predominantly white sports exposed the thought of racial stereotypes to be true,” Phillips wrote. “My time at Auburn made it more prominent, but I never questioned actions because you only know what you’re taught.” 

Phillips also wrote that she heard the N-word used openly in conversation by teammates, adding that she felt as though the head coach tried to “justify the language.”

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Galatians 3:28 • • • It can happen anywhere, learn from the mistakes made in the past so they won’t be repeated in the future

A post shared by Telah Black (@lala_baby15) on Jun 5, 2020 at 2:31pm PDT


In a post on Twitter, Graba apologized for the gymnasts’ experience at Auburn, saying he appreciated their authenticity.

“I am very thankful to these former student-athletes for sharing their experiences to help me improve the program for future generations,” Graba wrote. “The first step to addressing any concerns about our program is to have open dialogue.

“In gymnastics, we train our student-athletes to fight for every tenth. To constantly work to improve. Going forward, I, along with our assistant coaches and everyone associated with Auburn gymnastics, will do exactly that. We will strive to create a culture where everyone feels valued, celebrated and protected.” 

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