SALT LAKE CITY — Wednesday was a rough one for the Oregon State athletic department for a couple of different reasons.
Not only did the Beavers announce reductions to 23 staff positions in the wake of coronavirus-caused budget issues, but the football team also cut a player after racist remarks emerged on social media.
Hours after Oregon State athletic director Scott Barnes alerted media Wednesday that financial ramifications related to the COVID-19 pandemic forced the department to tighten its budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year, the Beavers’ head football coach announced that tight end Rocco Carley had been kicked off the team.
A recording of Carley using vile and hate-filled language, including the N-word, that disparaged black people, Muslims and homosexuals was posted on social media Wednesday.
Oregon State swiftly took action against Carley, a 6-foot-6 player from Mount Carmel, Oregon, who was heading into his second collegiate season. Coach Jonathan Smith informed Barnes, the former Utah State athletic director, of the racist remarks, and the two agreed that the student-athlete had to be expunged from the roster.
“We both agreed this language and attitude is entirely unacceptable, regardless of circumstance or environment,” Smith wrote on Twitter. “I spoke with Rocco and dismissed him from the team. I will not tolerate racism or hate speech.”
The university also announced via Twitter that it will punish Carley.
“We prohibit discrimination in any form,” read a statement on the official Oregon State account. “The comments referred to in this post are not in keeping with the university’s commitment to a safe, welcoming and inclusive community. Action will be taken immediately.”
Carley issued an apology on Wednesday night, explaining he’d made the comments in jest to friends years ago in high school while pretending to say racist remarks as if he were a man from the South. He claimed that the things he said were not representative of his own beliefs.
“To my family, my community, and everyone I have associated with, I am sorry,” Carley wrote. “This video was taken about 3 years ago in a group chat where me and my friends were saying stupid things. This does not condone anything of what I have said, but I promise to you all that this video does not represent me.
“I was doing an accent of a southern man and giving a very satire example of what we all thought would be funny. This is (in) no way shape or form makes what I said right. I am truthfully sorry to everyone I have hurt and offended, and I understand that I have not represented me or my family in any positive way during this situation.
“To all my brothers, teammates and everyone of color that I have associated with, I hope that you know me well enough to know I am in no way, shape or form a racist. Again I apologize, and I could not be more ashamed of my actions.”
Oregon State defensive back Jaydon Grant was one of several teammates to react via social media. Grant tweeted, “I see a JUSTIFICATION not an apology. I’m not hearing it bro, and I truly pray that God removes all that hate from your heart. I pray that God gives you the ability to educate yourself about racism and not simply say, ‘I am in no way shape or form a racist.’ God bless you.”
As for the budgetary difficulties, Barnes said he hopes the short-term difficulties will pave a path for long-term success.
“Across the world, we all are dealing with unprecedented challenges, which are requiring unprecedented and difficult decisions,” Barnes said, according to the Albany Democrat-Herald. “This is also true within OSU athletics. Based on our current scenario planning, we have budget models that range from a shortfall of $8 million and up for the upcoming fiscal year. We have begun the process of identifying all the mitigation strategies that must take place. Please understand that none of these decisions are easy but are necessary to be fiscally responsible.”
Beginning July 1, the revenue shortfall will also lead to operating budget reductions (7-20%), some salary reductions, a hiring/salary freeze and the reduction of nearly two dozen positions. Barnes called the personnel decisions “exceptionally difficult” because the program will be losing “many great people who have contributed in major ways to the success of the university, student-athlete success and the department.”
Barnes added, “It’s a decision no leader wants to make. I thank each of these colleagues for their service and commitment to our student-athletes and OSU athletics.”