Brandeis University basketball fired basketball coach Brian Meehan on Thursday amid complaints of, in the D-III school’s words, “preferential and discriminatory treatment, unprofessional behavior and racially biased harassment.”
What does that actually mean? Well according to a lengthy Deadspin report published Friday, Meehan’s behavior toward players was routinely racist and abusive. In one particularly jarring incident from this past season, Meehan allegedly told a player, “I’ll ship you back to Africa,” then made a comment about the Ebola virus.
Meehan’s behavior carried over into the most recent season as well, according to Player 2. In two instances during the 2018 season—after Brandeis HR completed its investigation into Meehan—Meehan allegedly told a first-year player on on the team who hailed from Africa, “If you ever talk to me like that again, I’ll ship you back to Africa.” Later, during a practice session, Meehan, looking for a place to sit down for a moment, saw the same player and commented “Oh, I don’t want to sit next to him because I’ll get Ebola.”
Meehan’s program has struggled in recent years in part because of its difficult retaining players, especially black ones. A Brandeis HR report last year found that only one African-American player had graduated in the past four years, and Deadspin reports that only three of the 20 black players who have appeared on the Brandeis roster since 2011 have lasted the full four years, as compared to eight out of 24 for white players.
As if that weren’t enough, Meehan has also been accused of mistreating injured players and chronically favoring his two sons on the team.
Player 1 recounted his time on the team during an injury-filled freshman season for Deadspin. “If you were hurt, unless you were his son or one of the other white players, you were basically dead to him,” he said. “I had so many injuries, and the trainers were like ‘[Player 1], you need to sit.’ But I’m like, ‘Bro, I can’t really sit because if I do this, he’ll say I’m dead to him, he won’t play me, he’ll think negatively of me.’ [Meehan] just put me down. When I was young, as a freshman, I had a couple injuries and, you know, I got to treat my injuries, and he would look at me in just a weird way. Like not human.
“I remember him telling me that if I don’t go through our shootarounds before the games that he wouldn’t play me, so even though I was hurt I fight through the knee problem just so I can play even though the trainers told me not to. His son Nate, who had a back problem would miss shootarounds and would still be able to participate in games.”
Deadspin reports that a group of players filed complaints to Brandeis HR last year and that the university conducted an investigation from May to November. Meehan was not fired until Thursday, after Deadspin reached out to Brandeis asking about the allegations it had uncovered.