AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) — A coach at the University of South Carolina Aiken is under fire following a post on social media.
The post involved Head Baseball Coach Kenny Thomas adding a comment to someone’s post of a Clemson University football helmet. The protective gear showed a “Black Lives Matter” logo on the back of the helmet.
“It is 100% shameful, I promise you will never see anything like this on my field. I support the Blue and not ashamed to say it!,” Thomas said on social media.
The comments came swiftly. “This man was hired by an institution that is supposed to uphold morals and standards,” the poster said. “When this man was hired (and when we ALL enrolled) he/we agreed to uphold those morals and standards. What this man did clearly goes against what our college is supposed to be standing for, thus he should be held accountable,” she added.
Other comments praised the coach “Amen Coach, keep up the good work!” one poster added.
USC Aiken Athletics issued the following statement:
“At UofSC Aiken we are clear in our stand that hate, inequity and injustice will not be tolerated. We stand with the African American community and with all who are victims of racism and resulting inequities. As educational leaders, the university has a special role to play in building understanding and ending bias. Pacer Athletics will continue its long standing commitment to support sensitivity training and education.”
School officials sent Shawn the following statement attributed to Chancellor Sandra J. Jordan:
Words simply cannot express my disappointment of a publicly known university member who last night posted a remark on a personal social media page that seemed to be intolerant of the Black Lives Matter movement.
His expression was a personal opinion and does not reflect the values of this university, Pacer athletics, or our community.
While the university is committed to helping individuals learn how to think, we cannot tell them what to think. Of course, the beliefs and ideas of individual members of the UofSC Aiken community will often and quite naturally conflict. It is not the proper role of the university to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive.
Nonetheless, I am writing today to speak out against intolerance and opinions that stand in sharp contrast with our stated values of civility, tolerance and mutual respect. The comments of one individual will not undermine the committed work of our university and our commitment to social justice, racial equality, and a belief in the nobility of all people. Black Lives Do Matter and history has taught us that change happens when people stand together to end systemic discrimination and enforce the core principles of diversity, inclusion, justice and liberty. The university is taking appropriate personnel action with this matter. The posted remarks stand in sharp contrast with the work being done in offices across this university by men and women who are committed to diversity, inclusion, belonging, and equality.
Meanwhile, Thomas posted the following on social media:
Apparently some folks have taken my comment about the stickers on the Clemson football helmets to some degree it was not meant to be. My intent for the comment was to wish college athletics would not have to be involved in the politics of today. If you know me, you know I have always respected and appreciated not only my players, but people in general without regard to any race. Might of fact I would say I truely love all my current and former players. If I have hurt your feelings I’m very sorry.
School officials say any students, faculty and staff who have feelings of angst, hurt, and pain on this matter, there are resources available.
The UofSC Aiken Counseling Center, www.usca.edu/counseling-center or 803-641-3609
Office of the Ombuds at https://www.usca.edu/ombuds, or 803-641-3237
Diversity Initiatives Office at https://www.usca.edu/diversity-initiatives, or 803-641-3442.