Colorado State suspends football activities to investigate racism, verbal abuse allegations
Colorado State athletic director Joe Parker suspended all football-related activities indefinitely and asked school president Joyce McConnell to expand a recently announced investigation into the athletic department to include allegations of racism and verbal abuse in the football program.
Parker said in a statement Friday that he decided to pause all football activity, including practice, workouts and team meetings, after learning of “extremely troubling allegations of racism and verbal abuse from CSU’s athletic administration generally and in the football program specifically.”
“Colorado State University is committed to being an anti-racist university, and we will not tolerate any behavior or climate that goes against that core value,” Parker said in his statement. “Moreover, CSU Athletics is committed to the health and well-being of student-athletes above all other priorities, and this includes their mental health. We believe it is our responsibility to make sure that all student-athletes feel welcomed and valued as members of an inclusive athletics community.
“I have consulted with President McConnell about these new allegations, which obviously deeply concern her as well. … While we have been working hard towards playing football this fall, the holistic well-being of our student-athletes is our unequivocal top priority. We must and will address these allegations before we focus on playing football.”
Anthoney Hill, the school’s former player development coach and its starting quarterback in the early 1990s, said he was terminated following Steve Addazio’s hiring as head coach in December because he’d expressed concerns about him.
Hill arrived in 2015 under former coach Mike Bobo and maintained his position for about a month after Addazio’s arrival.
In his response to the university’s termination letter, Hill told Parker he was concerned about the lack of pay for the African American coaches on the staff. He also said he had concerns about nepotism after Addazio hired his son, Louie Addazio, and Urban Meyer’s son-in-law, Corey Dennis. Parker said Meyer had been an adviser during the search for a new coach.
Hill’s letter described a harmful culture, suggesting he’d witnessed racially insensitive comments under Bobo and worried about a similar environment under Addazio.
“I’m more concerned about your conduct in allowing CSU Athletics to become an environment where coaches can exhibit toxic masculinity as well as make racially insensitive comments to black players on your watch,” Hill wrote to Parker after he was terminated in January. “Also, bringing in a new head football coach who tells the graduate assistants within days of knowing them that he ‘doesn’t give a f— about their feelings’ is contradictory to being ‘committed to the holistic development of student-athletes … and of crafting a culture where students thrive.'”
On Tuesday, McConnell announced an immediate and objective investigation into the athletic department after allegations that student-athletes were intimidated and threatened about coronavirus protocols and concerns.
Coaches, players and sports medicine staff told ESPN’s Myron Medcalf that athletic department leaders discouraged athletes from being tested for COVID-19, are not providing accurate information to local and state health officials, and are ignoring guidelines to quarantine athletes who might have been exposed. McConnell told ESPN that Colorado State would not play football this season unless players feel safe.
The new allegations add another layer to the investigation. In a statement issued Tuesday, Addazio said he fully supported the investigation into the allegations surrounding the handling of the coronavirus.