Mississippi State head football coach Mike Leach recently drew criticism from Bulldogs players and a professor at the university, after tweeting a meme of a woman knitting a noose. Leach deleted the tweet, and followed with an “I had no intention of offending anyone” tweet.
Two players have already entered the transfer portal since Leach’s noose tweet: defensive lineman Fabien Lovett and offensive lineman Brevyn Jones. In Lovett’s case, his father even admitted that Leach’s tweet led to the decision to transfer:
The father said he questioned Leach’s ability to lead because he says “whatever whenever.”
“I didn’t feel comfortable with my son being down there with a guy like that from a leadership standpoint — that you can just throw anything out there,” Abdual told the Clarion Ledger on Saturday. “I feel if he can do it, the kids are going to feel like they can do it.”
On Tuesday, Mississippi State released a statement from Athletic Director John Cohen, saying that “a plan is in place” for Leach to participate in listening sessions “with student, alumni, and community groups and to provide the coach with opportunities to expand his cultural awareness of Mississippi.” This will include a guided visit to the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.
“No matter the context, for many Americans the image of a noose is never appropriate and that’s particularly true in the South and in Mississippi. Mississippi State University was disappointed in the use of such an image in a tweet by Coach Mike Leach. He removed the tweet and issued a public apology. The university is confident that Coach Leach is moving quickly and sincerely past this unintended misstep and will provide the leadership for our student athletes and excitement for our football program that our fans deserve and that our students and alumni will be proud to support.”
Cohen said that a plan is in place for Coach Leach to participate in additional listening sessions with student, alumni, and community groups and to provide the coach with opportunities to expand his cultural awareness of Mississippi. One of those opportunities will include a guided visit to the “Two Museums” – the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum – in Jackson as soon as restrictions from the current public health crisis will allow.
Leach, 59, hasn’t even coached a game for Mississippi State yet, after leaving Washington State to sign a four-year deal worth $5 million per year (plus incentives) with the Bulldogs in January.