Utah State University interim coach calls for investigation of racial bias

Dec 13, 2020, 2:53 PM
USU Interim Head coach Frank Maile...
Utah State Aggies interim coach Frank Maile watches the game with the Fresno State Bulldogs in Logan on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (Photo credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)
(Photo credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah State University Interim Head Football Coach Frank Maile called for an “independent investigation of religious, cultural, and racial discrimination throughout Utah State University” in a letter sent to members of the media. 

Allegation of religious and cultural bias at Utah State University

Maile raised concerns about a recent meeting held by Utah State President Noelle Cockett and Athletic Director John Hartwell. During the meeting, Cockett reportedly told members of the USU football team and the team’s leadership council that she did not consider Maile for the position of head coach “because of concerns that my religion and Pacific Islander culture would negatively impact the University’s future football program,” Maile wrote in the letter sent to the media.

On Saturday, Utah State University officially announced that former Arkansas State head coach Blake Anderson had been chosen to lead the Aggies football team as head coach.

Utah State University student-athletes respond to comments

KSL Sports reported that the Utah State football team decided not to play against Colorado State this weekend because of comments the players said were made by USU leadership during a Zoom call regarding Maile’s religious and cultural background. This decision by the athletes not to play was reported extensively by Brett McMurphy, described as a college football insider for the Stadium sports network.

McMurphy reports that the decision not to play was made after an “anonymous, players-only survey.”  He reports that approximately three-quarters of the students on the call were concerned about statements made by USU President Noelle Cockett.

Students responding to the survey emphasized they did not want their decision to reflect any statement about Anderson, their new head coach. 

Rather, they said, “We are highlighting the ongoing problems of inequality and want to create a better future for the community of Logan and Utah State University,” according to Stadium reporter Brett McMurphy.

Allegation of previous discriminatory comments at USU

In the letter sent to Stadium, USU football players cited a previous incident of discrimination. They said in December 2019, “our head equipment manager used a racial slur against one of our African-American teammates.” After an investigation, the equipment manager retained his job.

In a statement sent to KSL Sports, Cockett said she was “devastated that my comments were interpreted as bias against anyone’s religious background.” She says she is “committed to giving our students a voice,” presumably about alleged racial or religious bias demonstrated by USU leadership.

Interim coach thankful for students and their actions

Maile called for a thorough and independent investigation of religious, cultural and racial discrimination throughout Utah State University.

He said he felt “heart-broken” for the senior players of the team who decided not to play in the last game of their college football career. 

“I want to express my [utmost] respect and admiration for their decision to stand up for what they believe in — and I am truly honored that they would stand up for me.”

Related stories:

Lawsuit claims Utah State University discriminated against student with Down syndrome


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Utah State University interim coach calls for investigation of racial bias