Everyone has heard about cases in which certain athletes got rejected by universities due to the players failing drug tests, but never before has a coach rejected a recruit simply because other athletes from his state failed drug tests in the past.
Mike Jeffcoat, now the ex-coach of the Texas Wesleyan University baseball team and a former Major League pitcher, was fired several days ago due to rejecting a recruit solely based on the state from which the player was being recruited.
Cherokee Trail High School senior, Gavin Bell, was hoping to be a part of the Texas Wesleyan University baseball team in the 2018/2019 season when he got a very disturbing answer from the head coach.
Here’s the whole email in which Gavin got the unfortunate news:
Unfortunately, we are not recruiting players from the state of Colorado. In the past, players have had trouble passing our drug test. We have made a decision to not take a chance on student-athletes from your state. You can thank your liberal politicians. Best of luck wherever you decide to play.”
Gavin Bell forwarded the coach’s response to one of his teachers, who later posted it on Twitter and then the email went viral.
As you may have assumed, the public backlash was huge and immediate.
Texas Wesleyan University conducted an internal investigation quickly after discovering the viral tweet, and coach Jeffcoat was fired shortly after.
The school president Fred Slabach said in a statement to the press:
“Mike Jeffcoat is no longer an employee of Texas Wesleyan University,” school president Fred Slabach said in a press conference.
“He was separated from the university due to the discriminatory remarks contained in an email to a potential recruit from the state of Colorado and for another factor that we have been investigating for the last week. This additional factor is an NAIA rule violation that has recently come to our attention.”
President Slabach did not give further details of the NAIA violation, but he did say that it concerned the “eligibility of players, not Title IX or other discriminatory factors,” which at this point is hard to believe.
As it was expected of a prestigious school such as the Texas Wesleyan University, the school officials also released a statement online saying that the university does not stand for discrimination “on the basis of race, color, origin, ethnicity, gender age, religion, disability or sexuality; or the political legislation of one’s home state.”
Gavin Bell said in a later statement that he didn’t mean for any of this to happen, and he did not want the coach to lose his job:
“I’m not trying to get anybody in trouble here, my intention wasn’t trying to get this guy fired. My intention was just to try to play baseball.”
Ultimately, Texas Wesleyan University president Slabach invited Bell to enroll and apply to be a member of the team once again guaranteeing him a fair process this time around.
“I am reaching out to him,” Slabach said. “If that young man or his family is watching today I want to make sure he knows that the comments contained in that email absolutely do not express the values of this university. And we would love to have Gavin here as a student.”
This was the first time the public has seen a recruitment rejection based solely on discriminating against players from states with legalized marijuana, and very likely the last time we’ll see such a rejection due to the massive amount of negative backlash that followed it.