It would be difficult for any of us who haven’t experienced being Black in America to understand exactly how it felt for a group of young Black college basketball players to sit in a locker room and hear their coach make a reference to his program as a plantation.
But I’d like to think, if I were in a position to make a decision about how to deal with that kind of shocking event, my first priority would be to listen and find out.
At Creighton University, though, apparently the listening came second to the basketball.
That’s the only explanation for the decision Thursday night to suspend coach Greg McDermott after he was allowed to coach Wednesday against Villanova.
It’s unclear how long McDermott’s suspension will last or what precisely changed between Tuesday, when he revealed what happened in a public apology on Twitter, and now. McDermott took no questions from the media on the topic after the Villanova game, but did say on a pregame radio show he offered to resign. Senior guard Damien Jefferson said he wouldn’t answer questions about the situation, either.
Creighton is going to be in the NCAA Tournament, so the stakes are high for how the school handles this over the next week.
But allowing McDermott to coach before suspending him suggests that the sentiment within Creighton’s locker room isn’t nearly as supportive as the school tried to portray by running him out onto the sideline Wednesday night.
That, in and of itself, is unacceptable. It means that saving McDermott was prioritized over what the players were going through. The fact it took this long for Creighton to acknowledge that with a punishment is a complete failure of leadership.
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