Colorado State football team activities have been suspended amid allegations of racism and verbal abuse as well as reports that players were threatened regarding coronavirus safety protocols. CSU leadership has launched an investigation into the reported behavior.
The decision to shut down all practices, workouts and team meetings came shortly after the school was contacted by The Coloradoan about allegations by both players and staff members, who said they saw instances of racial insensitivity and emotional and verbal abuse by coaches and athletic administrators.
“Colorado State University is committed to being an anti-racist university, and we will not tolerate any behavior or climate that goes against that core value,” athletic director Joe Parker said in his statement Friday. “Moreover, CSU Athletics is committed to the health and well-being of student-athletes above all other priorities, and this includes their mental health. We believe it is our responsibility to make sure that all student-athletes feel welcomed and valued as members of an inclusive athletics community.”
Just three days earlier, Colorado State president Joyce McConnell said the university was launching its own investigation into allegations that players were told not to report coronavirus symptoms.
“I have consulted with President McConnell about these new allegations, which obviously deeply concern her as well,” Parker said. “While we have been working hard towards playing football this fall, the holistic well-being of our student-athletes is our unequivocal top priority. We must and will address these allegations before we focus on playing football.”
Steve Addazio became the CSU football coach in December. Anthoney Hill, who was hired as the school’s player development coach in 2015, said he was fired about a month after Addazio arrived because he shared concerns about the new head coach, according to ESPN.
Following his termination, Hill told Parker he was concerned about an environment that allowed coaches to “exhibit toxic masculinity as well as make racially insensitive comments to black players on your watch.”
Earlier this week, after it was reported that players were told not to report coronavirus symptoms and that the program was altering contract tracing reports so players could keep practicing, McConnell told ESPN that Colorado State wouldn’t play football this year if its players didn’t feel safe.