College coaches, administrations speak out for racial injustices




  • Matt McCall





Sports Editor
Published: 6/3/2020 3:21:00 PM

College coaches and administrations are using their social media platforms to denounce police violence and bring awareness to racial injustice in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota and ensuing protests across the country.

Adam Banks, Amherst College quarterbacks, pass game/recruiting coordinator

“We are tired. Tired of being feared. Tired of being hated. Tired of being judged. Tired of being ‘too black.’ Tired of being not black enough. Tired of justifying our existence. Tired of seeing our brothers and sisters murdered. And tired of the hijacking of our frustration, anger, and anguish, this is not just about one man’s death. Over 150 years ago America’s Civil War ended and we are still plagued by this country’s original sin. Over 150 years since slaves were ‘freed.’ Racism is baked into this country and is weaponized daily. Check yourself, check your friends, check your family, and be part of the solution. Over 150 years! This isn’t going to be solved with a week of protests, social media posts, or tearing up local businesses. Show up in your community, show up in your school, show up in your place of work. Show up at the ballot box, National AND local. Show up for your black brothers and sisters and COMMIT TO CHANGE.”


Kelsey Parks Smith, Smith College coordinator of programs for student athlete development and enhancement

“Sport is supposed to be the great equalizer but history and the news prove otherwise. Racism and anti-blackness are insidious cultural diseases, from which sport is not immune. What sport can provide is a community of support, empowerment, education, and growth. As athletes, we know the meaning of cohesion and what we can do as a collective. Smith coaches continue to do work with their teams, however support is not limited to our own teammates.

To my fellow POC Pioneers, I see you. I want to do better by you. Although I’m not able to hold regular office hours through June and July, I am offering a space for BIPOC Pioneers and alums to speak, grieve, and process. This will be held June 4th at 3:30 p.m. EDT. To keep this space sage for us, please email me ( and I’ll send you the Zoom link.

The burden of education is not on the shoulders of our community-members of color. Resources, articles, links to petitions, and contact details for government officials are all at your fingertips on social media and across the web. Use your position to support members of your community while giving them the space to grieve and process.

As (Smith) President (Kathleen) McCartney said, we have a responsibility to do more, do better, work toward antiracism and the end of white supremacist thinking and actions.

That starts now.”


Ryan Bamford, UMass athletic director

“I’ve taken the last few days to listen, to read and to be present for people in my life that have hurt in their hearts. My heart is broken for them and for the state of our country. We are failing our people, especially Black Americans. People I care about deeply, who have impacted my life so positively, are hurting.

I’ll never ever understand what’s its (sic) like to feel unsafe when I leave my house. For generations now, that’s how too many of our Black friends, family, colleagues, coaches, and athletes feel, and that breaks my heart. This is a disgusting reality, and it has to stop.

I was taught to love ever person. To appreciate and embrace our differences. Working in college athletics has been a gift. The diversity of our people and our experiences has made me better. And as a leader, I know I can be better still for those around me. For our students and staff who feel unsafe and disenfranchised, I am sorry. I am your ally. And I will do all I can to make this world a better place for you.”


Matt McCall, UMass men’s basketball coach

“As coaches, it’s our job to educate. To teach. It’s no different as a parent: our job is to teach our children not to judge others, especially not by the color of someone’s skin.

We aren’t born with beliefs or opinions. We formulate them by how we are raised and taught.”

“I’m grateful for my parents and the values they instilled in me.

We keep talking about how changes need to be made. It’s time to stop talking and start acting.”


Tory Verdi, UMass women’s basketball coach

“Since learning of the inhumane murder of George Floyd, all I can feel is disappointment and sadness. I am so sorry that children in this country have to witness these social injustices and systematic racism that people of color have to face EVERYDAY.

Growing up around the sport of basketball in the city of New Britain, CT, I was exposed to so much diversity. I was fortunate. I never once thought someone was better or worse based off of their skin color of ethnic background/ We were all just people.

Changing the culture of social injustice and racial inequality must be addressed. As a leader, I have an important role moving forward. I must use my platform to help create change.

This week, my staff and players will be engaging in dialogue on these critical issues. Together, we will brainstorm and game plan on how we can impact the communities that need us. We understand our responsibility in helping heal this country.

As a program, we will learn and grow and be active in calls for change. Change for a better future. A future where we love and respect all people. Racism has NO place in this world.

We must all do better.”


Greg Carvel, UMass hockey coach

“Dark days indeed. We need to work together to create better days ahead.

Be Aware

Be Kind

Be Respectful

Be Empathetic

Be Part of Change

Be Inclusive

Be an Ally

Be Your Best

Be Accountable”


Walt Bell, UMass football coach

In a nearly 5-minute video posted on Twitter, Bell said:

“Your whole life as a football coach, you’re typically taught minimize risk and don’t say anything that could upset anybody and don’t offer your opinion when it’s not your realm. Even probably more important than that, I was raised ‘don’t offer your opinion if it ain’t needed.’ Especially, ‘don’t offer your opinion to people that you wouldn’t ask advice from.’

I completely understand how this could come off. But especially with what’s happened in Minneapolis and with George Floyd, the hard part of all of this is as the head football coach I’m responsible. I feel like God put me on this planet for me to help make the people that I come in contact with on a daily basis and the people I’m responsible for, better people.

And the fact that last night, when I lay my head on my pillow, that I had to ask my God to bring my 50 minority student-athletes back to me safely and the reason why I had to ask that is awful. It’s shameful. It’s incredible that in today’s day and age that I even have to ask that, the fact that my wife and I when we say our prayers, I have to ask to bring my young people, my young minority student-athletes, back to me safely whenever we’re allowed to.

Because I know that my kids they’re going to be running, they’re going to be lifting, they’re going to be conditioning. They don’t have access to facilities. That means they are going to be in the street, they are going to be on the road in their neighborhood. They’re going to be doing things outside of Amherst, Massachusetts. I’m not going to have the ability to protect them but I know that they’re going to strive and work and do everything in their power to maximize their potential. And the fact, again, that I have to ask God to bring them back to me safely because I know that it’s not safe. That’s an awful feeling. Prayers to George Floyd and his family and everything that’s going on in Minneapolis and the things that are happening around our country right now.

This is a great country. I’m incredibly proud of this great country, but we’ve got to be better. The ramifications of that, knowing that again I’m so responsible and proud to be responsible and I’m not perfect and its not that every person I have every come in contact with or life is ... as someone that feels really called to alter the lives of young people in a really positive way, especially the ones I’m responsible for, and knowing that I may not be able to get them back here and do that simple because of the color of their skin is incredibly difficult to deal with.

The great lessons in athletics that we learn every day is that we’re all the same. If you’re willing to put in the work and you’re willing to strive and sacrifice and put others before you is that we’re all OK. Why? Because we all want the same things and we’re all the same. I love my guys. I can’t wait to get them back here safely.

But bigger than that, we have to be better. I know I’m the last guy on the planet that anyone probably cares to hear their opinion. I’m probably the last football coach that people really care to hear their opinion on race relations in this country.

But I felt compelled with whatever small platform I have and more importantly to lead the young men I have in my program and the way in which I lead them is big. I love everybody. I can’t wait to get my players back. Prayers for our country, for George Floyd and his family and anybody that’s affected by this in any multitude of ways.”


Smith College athletics

“Right now, Smith College Athletics and members of our community are processing, protesting, and grieving in response to the killings of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, George Floyd, Sean Reed and Ahmaud Arbery. The quick succession of these deaths in the midst of a virus that is disproportionately affecting communities of color is a stark depiction of the racial inequality that plagues our society. Empty sentiments won’t prevent the perpetuation of systemic racism. We must act. We must educate ourselves on the experiences of those in our community and across the country. We must learn how to better support our Black and POC community-members on a departmental and national level. We all must look at ourselves and evaluate how we can work together to better support and elevate the experiences of Pioneers of color.

Our department is committed to being a leader in collegiate athletics and with that high standard, comes responsibility to take action. Tolerance and silence are the deafening voice of complicity. We acknowledge the systemic racism in our country, in higher education and in our athletic department. We stand firm in our promise to be better for our Black student-athletes.

We value the role that athletics plays in a liberal arts education. We will continue to use our athletic space as one for education surrounding racism, anti-racism, and white privilege. We will examine our practices as a department and improve upon our programming to move towards equity. We acknowledge that we do not have all the answers, however we will continue to lean and educate. Smith Athletics recognizes this is ongoing work that needs to be done.

Society and communities can benefit from using the team culture concepts of creating a space of acceptance, understanding and empathy. As a department, Smith Athletics will use our platform to support and uplift our black student-athletes and will continue to demand racial justice.”


Mount Holyoke College

“We are anguished by the killings of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor and the countless other Black victims of police violence and systemic racism. Words are not enough. We must build communities based on justice and equity, lift our voices to fight racism and reshape the future by dismantling systems of oppression. At Mount Holyoke College we believe that #BlackLivesMatter.”


Amherst College women’s soccer

“Black Lives Matter.

AWS stands as an ally and advocate against racism. We are committed to listening and engaging in the fight against racial injustice in our communities.

Wherever you are, we stand with you.”


EJ Mills, Amherst College football coach

“We often speak of leadership and creating positive change. ‘Do your best everyday,’ was a motto taught to me by my Father. ‘Do your best everyday!’ Simple and honest effort can take us further in the right direction. I don’t often emote on social media, but this is a time for us to re-define what leadership means. No words can fully express my sorrow or my frustration. We need leaders! Individuals who understand that unity comes from acknowledging and respecting differences. I look forward to doing this work with you. Together we can get stronger.”


Amherst College baseball

“The Amherst College baseball program unanimously stands with our African-American teammates, alumni, friends, families and the black community at large. As future leaders of this country, we must no longer remain silent in the face of oppression. At this time, our energy and effort is directed at ways in which we can be an agent of change to end systemic bias, racism and the unjust treatment of Black Americans.”


UMass women’s soccer

During this difficult time in our country, our UMass women’s soccer team is proud to state we are ANTI-racism. We stand strong with the black members of our team, athletic department, the University of Massachusetts, and in all communities where each of our players and staff call home. We believe that now is the time to use our voices and platform to fight the systemic racism and social injustices we are witnessing around the country, and advocate for the diversity and inclusion. We pledge to continue to educate ourselves and all who connect with our program about how to best support our student-athletes of color and about how we can work to impact a positive change in our community and in our nation.”


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