Lorena Grajales, Editor-in-Chief–
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga announced the immediate dismissal of Assistant Football Coach, Chris Malone, following a public offensive Tweet targeted at Stacey Abrams, a Black female legislator who ran in the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election.
In the tweet posted on Jan. 5, Malone attacked Abrams using derogatory statements and expressed his disappointment after the Democratic Senate win in Georgia. Malone accused her of the alleged ongoing election fraud led through her organization of votes in the state. This comes after President Trump’s multiple public accusations of fraud and cheating after his defeat in the 2020 Presidential Election.
On Thursday, Jan. 7, Chancellor Steven R. Angle remarked on the former assistant coach and reminded students, staff and faculty of the high standards the university is held to.
“UTC faculty and staff are expected to lead in a way that achieves and maintains a respectful, tolerant and civil campus environment. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga does not tolerate and unequivocally condemns discrimination and hatred in all forms.”
UTC Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics, Mark Wharton, defended the honorability and morality of the athletic department, despite the “appalling” and “totally inappropriate” comments made from their staff member. Wharton was also quick to announce Malone’s dismissal from the football team, after several students and parents showed their frustration on social media.
“The sentiments in that post do not represent the values of our football program, our Athletics department or our University. With that said, effective immediately, that individual is no longer a part of the program.”
Despite having addressed the situation, the university received backlash from members of the community and parents of potential UTC students, who took to social media to express their anger towards the public display of disrespectful behavior shown by the former assistant coach.
“My daughter received mail from this college…scratching this one off the list ASAP and I hope other GA parents will do the same after the nasty tweet…no way I would send my child to a school who employs people like this,” tweeted T. Daniel, father of a student for class of 2021.
Drayton Arnold, a senior from South Carolina and quarterback for the Mocs football team, took to Twitter to share his thoughts regarding the incident-he deemed as racist.
“…It is extremely disappointing to see a coach fail to exhibit basic respect and decency towards fellow human beings. Regardless of one’s political ideology or affiliation, we must condemn acts of racism and cruelty in any form. I have always strived to help lead this team with kindness and dignity, and ask that all coaches, staff, and players continue to do the same,” Arnold tweeted.
UTC’s Head Football Coach, Rusty White mentioned in his statement that the demand for respect on the team is vital and non-negotiable. “Life is bigger than football and as leaders of young men, we have to set that example, first and foremost.”
In a tweet made by Former NFL wide receiver and UTC alumnus, Terrell Owens, he said he stands by the decisions of Wharton and White to have Malone removed from the team. Following his termination with the university and national criticism, Malone permanently deleted his Twitter account.