CSU Rams football players say allegations against Steve Addazio, program “patently untrue”August 8, 2020
CSU Rams football players released a collective statement Saturday morning denouncing recent allegations levied against first-year coach Steve Addazio and his staff.
A six-paragraph statement, addressed to “Members of the Colorado State University community,” describes charges of racism and verbal abuse on the part of Addazio and the staff as “patently untrue.”
“To the contrary,” it continued, “our experience since Coach Addazio’s first day has been positive, welcoming and focused on our development as student athletes. To be absolutely clear, we have not experienced any racially insensitive comments to our teammates from the athletic department or coaching staff.”
The statement was released in response to two independent investigations launched against the Rams football program by the university. The first, announced late Tuesday by university president Joyce McConnell, was in response to charges by anonymous student-athletes and staffers that athletics staff and coaches were not following COVID-19 protocols. The allegations were levied by unnamed sources in a story published Tuesday by the Fort Collins Coloradoan.
The spotlight on the program intensified Friday, when athletic director Joe Parker announced he was pausing all football activities immediately in response to allegations of “racism and verbal abuse from CSU’s athletic administration generally and in the football program specifically.”
Seniors on the CSU football program refuted those concerns during a meeting late Friday, and again during a team-wide meeting Saturday. Players were provided copies of a prepared statement of support for the coaching staff and encouraged to share it, and to have others share it, via social media channels with the hashtag “#CSUUnited.”
Saturday’s statement describes a spate of allegations against Addazio and the program on everything from COVID-19 protocol to race as “unfounded” from “individuals who are not associated with our current football team.
“The unfounded allegations from a disgruntled former coach and/or unnamed source is unfair, unjust and creates the exact demeaning and painful wounds that can be caused by racism. Again, we do not practice, sweat, work or study in a harmful culture.”
The statement refers to a letter published by ESPN.com Friday that was reportedly sent from former Rams quarterback and CSU assistant Anthoney Hill to athletic director Joe Parker.
The letter, which was reportedly sent by Hill after he was not retained on the staff by Addazio, expressed concerns “about your conduct in allowing CSU Athletics to become an environment where coaches can exhibit toxic masculinity as well as make racially insensitive comments to black players on your watch.
“Also, bringing in a new head football coach who tells the graduate assistants within days of knowing them that he ‘doesn’t give a (expletive) about their feelings’ is contradictory to being ‘committed to the holistic development of student-athletes … and of crafting a culture where students thrive.”
In response to the release of the letter, Rams players Saturday requested administrators, investigators, reporters and fans “ask us, not unnamed sources and former coaches who have an ax to grind.”
The players’ comments also assert that CSU football has “matured and positively developed since Coach Addazio’s arrival. The seniors and our football team unequivocally support our Coach and his staff.
“They have acted professionally, respectfully and are committed to fostering an inclusive and supportive football program.”
McConnell announced via an email to student-athletes and department staffers that the investigations would be led by Husch Blackwell, a Kansas City-based legal firm. Husch Blackwell was hired earlier this summer by the University of Iowa to lead an independent investigation into allegations of racial insensitivity and abuse by football coach Kirk Ferentz and his staff.
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