The Seattle University community learned of the resignation of men’s basketball head coach Jim Hayford on Nov. 11 after allegedly calling his players the “N-word”. The incident reportedly took place during an exhibition game in which Hayford reiterated the slander his player had dismissed on his bench. Seattle U put Hayford on administrative vacation on November 5th Bally Sports reported the incident.
An anonymous student-athlete commented on what his friends on the basketball team had told him about the incident.
âThe coach got angry and said the ‘N word’ with a hard ‘R’ back to the players and yelled it. The players said that was why they didn’t want to play for him anymore. As a black student male athlete, I feel unsure they didn’t fire him because I feel like they are allowing an oppressor to repeat himself [his actions]âSaid the anonymous student-athlete.
Corresponding Bally Sports, this is not the first time Hayford has used the n-word during training. Seattle U Executive Vice President Timothy Leary informed The Spectator that the November 4 incident was the first time he heard of any insult from Hayford towards the team. An investigation by the team was opened after Hayford University placed on paid administrative leave.
A former Seattle U basketball player who chose to remain confidential countered Leary’s point of view.
“The sports department received complaints about things going on within the basketball program and they did nothing about it. As for the support from the athletics department … I didn’t feel that way, âsaid the former basketball player.
Hayford was hired by current Athletic Director Shaney Fink to coach the Redhawks. Since his appointment, he has been the basketball team’s most successful coach since 1963-64. He finished his tenure at Seattle U on a record 63-55 after the Athletic Department announced his resignation in one opinion.
“I understand that Coach Hayford is no longer able to lead the team effectively … The top priority within the athletics department is and remains to support the well-being and success of our student athletes, “Fink wrote in the statement.
Caitlin Carlson, an associate professor in the Department of Communications and Media, commented on Seattle U’s lack of urgency in getting this incident public.
“The whole situation could have been handled with more transparency and accountability. Even if you see the coverage of the athletics department telling us what happened, it is ultimately your responsibility if you are in charge of an organization, “said Carlson. âI could see the potential legal restrictions on them [the Seattle U administration] not being able to act faster … But I think it sends a message that they are more tolerant of this type of hate speech than many of us would like. “
The anonymous student athlete expressed concern about how the situation was handled prior to the announcement of the resignation.
“NSThe way the school handled the situation made it seem like there wasn’t enough to get him fired right away. For me, he should have been fired immediately even though he left school. I just feel like the school could have taken a few more precautions to reassure their athletes that they are on their side, and not just on their side [departmentâs] Side, âsaid the anonymous student-athlete.
Former Seattle U basketball player Morgan Means commented on how it was played for Hayford during his tenure for the Redhawks.
âHe did a lot for me during my years there. He always talked a lot about love and being together and each other’s backs, âsaid Means. “We’ve definitely never had anything like this where there was any kind of disrespect.”
Leary believes that basketball players should be commended for their courage. He stressed that it was due to the members of the men’s basketball team for their courage to speak up.
âI think it’s important to know that we’ve had some brave ball players who got promoted. And I understand they were deeply hurt and I am impressed with the way they treated themselves, âLeary said.
Leary went on to say that Fink has a racial justice working group where students are heavily involved in ensuring that such situations do not arise.
“Fink talked to us about training and racial equity programs to prevent this from happening. But something like that will still happen and it’s about what you really stand for, âsaid the student athlete. âWe always get these e-mails about the state of the school with this and that problem, but are they really doing that? Or are they just saying that to make the school look better? The fact that I don’t know if they’re real is a problem. “
There are no further ongoing investigations into whether athletics employees or athletes within the athletics department use racially derogatory language, according to Leary.
“[We] We weren’t necessarily able to connect with our coaches and dealing with the BLM movement, we couldn’t really talk to our coaches about this because there was an interruption, âsaid the former basketball player. “[I]It was a very toxic environment and I think a whole new culture needs to be created where you bring more color students with you [and] more color, so that it is more varied. “
Seattle U has not officially apologized for the Hayford incident. According to the university Declaration on diversity on-line, “The university regularly reviews its diversity-related policies and programs to determine its performance and, if necessary, adjust it to further these goals.”
With the Seattle U community waiting for the government’s response, Means said he was glad this incident occurred before the season started, as it allowed players to focus on the season without any external stressors.
Coach Chris Victor, who was hired by Hayford along with the rest of the current coaching staff, has taken on him on an interim basis. He has led the Redhawks to a 4-1 record so far this season.