AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) — Several student organizations are demanding action following an incident with USC Head Baseball Coach Kenny Thomas.
The post involved Coach Thomas adding a comment to someone’s post of a Clemson University football helmet. The protective gear showed a “Black Lives Matter” logo on the back of it. “It is 100% shameful, I promise you will never see anything like this on my field. I support the Blue and not ashamed to say it!,” Thomas said on social media.
He later issued an apology. It said in part, “My intent for the comment was to wish college athletics would not have to be involved in the politics of today. If you know me, you know I have always respected and appreciated not only my players but people in general without regard to any race. I truly love all my current and former players. If I have hurt your feelings I’m very sorry.”
The University of South Carolina Aiken sent NewsChannel 6’s Shawn Cabbagestalk a statement attributed to Chancellor Sandra J. Jordan saying in part, “Words simply cannot express my disappointment of a publicly known university member who last night posted a remark on a personal social media page that seemed to be intolerant of the Black Lives Matter movement. His expression was a personal opinion and does not reflect the values of this university, Pacer athletics, or our community.”
Now, the USC Aiken Chapter of the NAACP and the Black Student Union are demanding that USC Aiken be held accountable and make a change.
The statement is addressed to a number of people including Chancellor Sandra Jordan.
“We find the actions of not only your faculty and staff but administration to be unacceptable and nothing less of disrespectful. The current culture that has been created on this campus is unbearable and will not be tolerated.
It goes on to say that a protest is happening “in sole response to not only the events in which occurred this week, nor earlier this year or the various other past events from which called on the same outrage from your students’ but it doesn’t state a time or location for the event.
It also says that these staff members “fail[ed] to acknowledge the responsibilities you would uphold to your students. You say unto us that “A Pacer exhibits character and embraces diversity … A pacer values a high-quality learning environment that facilities growth in skills, knowledge, and wisdom.” Students are not the only representative of this university and its values. Your silence speaks volumes and unfortunately your students, faculty, and the community hear you loud and clear. The lives of your students should not be a political stance. So, at the end of the day, when will empty apologies become formidable action?”
According to info on social media, a rally for those who support the coach was scheduled for Friday, September 25 at 1 p.m. in the Aiken Convocation Center Parking Lot. A post on Coach Thomas’ Facebook said that he’s asking for the rally be postponed even though it’s not his decision whether it takes place.
That post has since been deleted.
Meanwhile, Shawn has reached out to the school for comment on USC Aiken Chapter of the NAACP and the Black Student Union demanding action. “Thanks for reaching out. The university has no further comments to make at this time,” the school told Shawn in an email.
Count on NewsChannel 6 to keep you updated on this developing story.