LOGAN, Utah (AP)Utah State has canceled its football game against Colorado State amid concerns voiced about religious discrimination during the search for a new football coach.
Aggies players issued a statementto Stadium on Friday, saying they were opting out of Saturday’s game because of alleged comments made by University President Noelle Cockett about the religious and cultural background of interim coach Frank Maile.
Cockett’s comments were reportedly made during a video call Tuesday with athletic director John Hartwell and the Utah State University Leadership Council to discuss Maile’s candidacy for the permanent head coaching job.
Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson resigned to take over Utah State, a source told The Associated Press on Thursday.
”We want our message to be clear that this has nothing to do with the hiring of Coach Blake Anderson, the recently-named head coach of the program,” the players said in their statement. ”We are sure he is an excellent coach; we look forward to meeting him and his staff. We are highlighting the ongoing problems of inequality and want to create a better future for the community of Logan and Utah State University.”
Maile is in his second go-round as an assistant coach at Utah State, with a stint at Vanderbilt from 2014-15 in between. He has been assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator for the past five seasons and was named interim head coach when Gary Andersen was fired after an 0-3 start this season.
”I am devastated that my comments were interpreted as bias against anyone’s religious background,” Cockett said in a statement. ”Throughout my professional career and, especially, as president of USU, I have welcomed the opportunity to meet directly and often with students about their experiences.
”Regardless of how difficult the conversations might be in the coming days, I remain committed to giving our students a voice.”
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