Creighton University basketball coach Greg McDermott apologized Tuesday for urging his players “to stay on the plantation” in a misguided plea for togetherness.
“It is not indicative of who I am as a person or as a coach,” he said in a statement posted to Twitter. “I am deeply sorry.”
McDermott, who is white, acknowledged telling his racially diverse team after a loss to Xavier University on Saturday: “Guys, we got to stick together. We need both feet in. I need everybody to stay on the plantation. I can’t have anybody leave the plantation.”
McDermott, 56, said he immediately recognized his mistake and addressed the insensitivity with the team and staff.
Officials with the Omaha, Nebraska, school said that “while an apology is a start, and while we believe this was out of character for coach McDermott, in no way does it diminish the fact that his remark was hurtful to many.”
The university would not disclose if he faced or received any punishment.
Creighton assistant coach Terrence Rencher, who is Black, said in a statement through the social justice group Coaches for Action that he was “deeply hurt” by McDermott’s words. He added that he had never experienced “racist energy” from the coach before, and noted an apparent vote of confidence for McDermott from the players.
“The players have decided that they want to continue to chase their goals on the court this season with coach McDermott and I support their wishes and will continue to pour my heart into coaching them and helping them deal with larger issues,” Rencher wrote.
Creighton has an overall record of 17-6 and a Big East conference record of 13-5. The school is scheduled to play its next-to-last regular season game at Villanova University on Wednesday. The Big East tournament begins next week.