Report: Utah State players refuse to play game after university president questions religion of interim coach
Utah State players will forego their final game of the season in protest of comments made by university president Noelle Cockett, according to a report.
That’s per Stadium’s Brett McMurphy, who reports Cockett questioned the faith of interim head coach Frank Maile on a Zoom call with players earlier this week.
Maile is a member of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
According to McMurphy’s report, the Zoom call was in an effort to give players input on who their next head coach would be. Cockett allegedly made remarks questioning Maile’s faith after players voiced support for him.
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Gary Andersen resigned as Utah State’s head coach earlier this season.
Utah State’s players released a statement to Stadium:
“The Utah State football players have decided to opt out of our game against Colorado State due to ongoing inequality and prejudicial issues between the players, coaches, and the USU administration.
“On Tuesday, December 8th, the Utah State University Football Leadership Council held a zoom meeting with Noelle Cockett, President of USU, and John Hartwell, the Athletic Director. The purpose of the meeting was to have a say in the search for our new head coach. During the meeting, we voiced our support for Interim Head Coach Frank Maile. In response to our comments, their primary concern was his religious and cultural background. Players, stating their diverse faiths and backgrounds, then jumped to Coach Frank Maile’s defense in treating everyone with love, equality, and fairness.”
The full statement also acknowledges an incident involving a Utah State equipment manager using a racial slur in 2019.
The team also says the decision to opt out against Colorado State has nothing to do with the reported hiring of Blake Anderson from Arkansas State.
“We want our message to be clear that this has nothing to do with the hiring of Coach Blake Anderson, the recently-named head coach of the program. We are sure he is an excellent coach; we look forward to meeting him and his staff. We are highlighting the ongoing problems of inequality and want to create a better future for the community of Logan and Utah State University.”
Utah State ends its season with a 1-5 record.