After days of internal discussion, Creighton University men’s basketball players made their public statement Saturday.
In a video shown prior to Saturday’s 93-73 home win over Butler in the regular-season finale, the Bluejays addressed the racially insensitive comments made by head coach Greg McDermott following a Feb. 27 loss at Xavier.
McDermott acknowledged the situation March 2, tweeting “I’m sorry” along with a screenshotted message detailing his “terribly inappropriate analogy.” According to McDermott, he told the team in the postgame locker room, “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.”
Related content: Creighton Coach Apologizes for ‘Inappropriate Analogy’
Creighton suspended McDermott indefinitely Thursday, with assistant coach Alan Huss serving as interim head coach for the Butler game. Prior to tipoff, the players’ video — during which senior Denzel Mahoney said McDermott’s statement hurt him and his teammates — played on the scoreboard of the CHI Health Center Omaha.
The video started with junior Christian Bishop saying, “James Baldwin said not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed without being faced.”
“For slaves, life on a plantation was filled with mental, emotional, physical, psychological and sexual abuse,” sophomore Shereef Mitchell said. “Viewed only as property and not human, slaves had no rights and no voice. They were branded like cattle, forced from their homeland and stripped of their culture, language and basic human rights. They worked 18 hours a day, seven days a week. Any sign of wrongdoing, such as lack of productivity, not following instructions or resistance would result in beatings or death.”
“Let’s not be OK with racism,” senior Damien Jefferson said, “Let’s start the conversation.”
According to Sports Illustrated, after the video, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” played throughout the stadium. Neither Creighton nor Butler stayed on the court for the national anthem.
KETV’s Matt Foster posted video of junior Marcus Zegarowki’s comments regarding the incident.
“A lot of guys in that locker room were hurting from it, and I was hurting from what he said,” Zegarowski said. “At the same time, coach Mac has been a huge mentor for me and I know he would take a bullet for me and everybody in that locker room, including the coaching staff.
“I know he made a really bad mistake with what he said. Only I know everything he’s done for me as a player, but more important as a human being. He loves me, he loves everybody in that locker room. That’s my coach, I love that dude. People make mistakes, and that’s my guy.”
Creighton took second in the Big East and is 18-7 entering the conference tournament.
Related content: Creighton Suspends Coach for Plantation Comment