The Arizona athletic department, specifically some of its most notable coaches, is making an effort to give commentary about the current state of affairs in this country after the incident in which George Floyd lost his life following a struggle with police last week in Minneapolis, Minn.
Sean Miller states about racism, “The hatred that accompanies racism destroys everything in its path. There is no place for it anywhere in the world.”
Adia Barnes mentions her heart “hurts” and writes: “Now is the time for CHANGE! Enough is enough, and we are all tired of the same injustice in America.”
Kevin Sumlin is the first African-American hired as head coach of the Arizona football program and only the second, after Fred Snowden, to be a head coach with the Wildcats in the revenue-producing sports of men’s basketball and football.
Sumlin writes about his struggles as a black male born during the Civil Rights movement 1964 in Brewton, Ala. (the same hometown of Snowden): “Being a college head football coach, blessed to earn more than I could have ever imagined, does not make me immune to the same suspicious stares, to the same fears of being pulled over, to the same assumptions that others make of me, to the same racist remarks sent in my directions, simply because I am black.”
Sumlin was the target of a much-publicized racist letter sent to his home following Texas A&M’s loss at UCLA to open the 2017 season. The letter was posted by his wife on Twitter.
“You suck as a coach!” the message began. “You’re a n****r and can’t win! Please get lost! Or else.”
Last year, the Houston Chronicle reported police identified the man who had been sending threatening and disturbing letters to a Houston socialite, Carolyn Farb, for more than 30 years as the same man who sent the letter to the Sumlins’ house in 2017. Robin Chiswell, 60, was charged with felony stalking in connection to the letters sent to Farb. During the course of the investigation that led to that charge, Chiswell was connected to the Sumlin letter. Chiswell is a Texas grad.
“For now, what I will focus on is what I can control: my own resolve to be a part of the solution,” Sumlin wrote in his statement released yesterday. “In gestures big and small, each and every day, I must do my part to foster a better understanding among all of us and if each of us take on a similar responsibility maybe we won’t have to ever think, not again.”
Sumlin, Miller and Barnes each wrote that they stand by their athletes and fully support them during this difficult time.
“I will always stand with our student-athletes and support them during these challenging times in the world,” Barnes wrote. “In this program, we will be the CHANGE! We will stand up for what is right. We will listen with open hearts and support one another wherever they are.”
Here are the statements with the tweets below them:
One of two. pic.twitter.com/gSc5ScEAgl
Two of two. pic.twitter.com/11BrnqprQk
My thoughts. pic.twitter.com/NIMlVOE0Mu
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.