On Saturday, a group of Colorado State athletes released a statement on behalf of the Colorado State football team disputing accusations of intimidation and racism against Steve Addazio and his staff.
One day earlier, the university decided to suspend all team activities. With this, the university also chose to progress their internal investigation regarding intimidation surrounding COVID-19 protocols, racism, and social justice. The allegations concern those within the athletic department and football program.
Colorado State hired Husch Blackwell law firm to investigate the football program. This came after several coaches, athletes, and medical staff reported to the media that athletes were particularly instructed to hide symptoms of COVID-19. This is to ensure they do not lose playing time if they should test positive for the virus.
It is evident that being misinformed or purposely giving poor advice could, in this circumstance, highly risk the safety and health of student athletes and the university community.
Several Claims are Difficult to Debunk
A new series of accusations were made public on Saturday night. The Coloradoan published an article with several reputable sources alleging incidents of racism and verbal abuse within the sport program. According to reports, these allegations date back to Mike Bobo’s time with the team and the last eight months into Addazio’s leadership.
In a specific instance, a mental health counselor at CSU, Jimmy Stewart, reported witnessing Addazio humiliate a football player because of an academic issue. Stewart explained the interaction seemed to stem from racist behaviors toward the unnamed Black student athlete.
A staff member later added that Addazio actually bragged about the altercation and referred to the athlete as a “f—ing d—hebag”. Other sources at the university confirmed the unjust incident and foul language used.
Joe Parker, CSU athletic director, claimed that if the allegations were true, this behavior is unacceptable. The Coloradoan article also highlighted how Addazio had described COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement as distractions from football.
After its publication, Kyle Neaves, CSU football spokesman, and CSU’s president, Joyce McConnell, both did not have any additional statements.
CSU United Speaks Out
On Saturday, the CSU United group reacted to the allegations by saying they were false. The group claims to be led by senior athletes with the support of the rest of the team.
Their public statement said that any allegations of racism or verbal abuse within the football program are false. They claim the publicity surrounding the accusations has caused a negative change in dynamic within their team and football community.
CSU United claims they have personally never had a negative or damaging experience with Coach Addazio. The students claim they see Addazio as a welcoming individual, focused on the development of his student athletes.
The public statement also says that in contrast to the allegations, they feel the team has grown since Adazzio took over. An assistant coach at Colorado State, Brian White, showed public support for the players’ statement with a tweet addressing the situation.
There have been several sources within the CSU athletic program and football team that claim the CSU United letter does not have the support of the full team.
Twenty-seven Colorado State football players either felt COVID-19 systems, were potentially exposed, or tested positive as of last week. Because of this, CSU had to pause sport activities as it was evident their safety protocols and plan were not going as planned.
Addazio’s plan to return early from a quarantine period was considered ill-advised and unsafe by many other coaches and players. As of Sunday, the team has 11 COVID-19 cases.
CSU president, Joyce McConnell, said she was incredibly disturbed to learn of the new allegations and decided to expand the “scope” of the investigation.
McConnell also highlighted that any student who wishes to come forward will not be a victim of retaliation in the investigation.
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