The Creighton men’s basketball program is going through a difficult time due to comments made by coach Greg McDermott after Saturday’s 77-69 loss at Xavier.
McDermott acknowledged the issues Tuesday, tweeting “I’m sorry” along with a screenshotted message detailing his “terribly inappropriate analogy.”
According to McDermott, who has been Creighton’s head coach since 2010, he said, “Guys, we got to stick together. We need both feet in. I need everybody to stay on the plantation. I can’t have anybody leave the plantation.”
McDermott said he made that analogy while addressing Creighton’s players and staff members in the postgame locker room at Xavier.
“I immediately recognized my egregious mistake and quickly addressed my use of such insensitive words with the team,” McDermott said in his statement. “I have never used that analogy and it is not indicative of who I am as a person or as a coach. I am deeply sorry. I have apologized to our student-athletes and to our staff, as well as to President Hendrickson and Director of Athletics Bruce Rasmussen.”
The comments have led to a number of difficult conversations within the Creighton program. Assistant coach Terrence Rencher released a statement regarding the incident, noting that Creighton’s “players have decided that they want to continue to chase their goals on the court this season.”
“My job is to help our players maximize their abilities as players, students and ultimately help them become productive members of society,” Rencher said. “Part of that growth is dealing with the horrible and uncomfortable truths about racism in our world and in basketball. Let me address what Coach McDermott said: I am deeply hurt by his words. While my relationship with Coach has been positive and I have never witnessed any racist energy from him, what he said was wrong and insensitive. ‘Plantation’ had a dark and hurtful history in my community and can’t be overlooked. Right now my focus is on the players and supporting them in any way that they need my support. As we have been reminded ‘It’s more than a game.’ This is real life and real issues.”
Creighton is ranked 14th in The Associated Press poll and carries a 17-6 record into Wednesday’s game at 10th-ranked Villanova. The Bluejays have two regular-season games remaining prior to next week’s Big East Conference Tournament.
“Over the last 72 hours, I have engaged in multiple difficult conversations with student athletes, staff, parents, and University administrators and I realize the pain that my words have caused,” McDermott said. “For that, I sincerely apologize. I am committed to ensure that this will never happen again and am using this as a learning experience. While there remains work to be done and trust to earn back, I appreciate our student-athletes’ honesty and will maintain an open dialogue as we grow and learn together.”