CSU Football Opens Investigation into Allegations of Racism, Verbal Abuse

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorAugust 8, 2020

Steve Addazio, center, looks down at a jersey presented to him by athletic director Joe Parker, left, and President Joyce McConnell during an announcement that Addazio has been hired as the new head football coach at Colorado State University at a news conference at the school Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, in Fort Collins, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Colorado State has suspended all football activities upon fielding allegations of racism and verbal abuse within the athletic administration and football program notably, per Kevin Lytle of the Coloradoan.

A statement from athletic director Joe Parker on Friday read as follows:

"Today, we learned of some extremely troubling allegations of racism and verbal abuse from CSU’s athletic administration generally and in the football program specifically.

"I have consulted with President (Joyce) McConnell about these new allegations, which obviously deeply concern her as well.  Effective immediately, and for the best interests of our student-athletes, I am pausing all football-related activities indefinitely.  This includes practices, workouts, and team meetings. 

"I have also asked President McConnell to expand the independent investigation she announced on Tuesday to include a comprehensive review of our athletic department and football program specifically related to allegations of racism and verbal abuse. 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.”

Per Lytle, the Coloradoan is investigating allegations from ex-CSU players and athletic staff members who claim they "witnessed racial insensitivity and emotional and verbal abuse among coaches and athletic administrators."

This news comes after the school hired an outside law firm, Husch Blackwell, to conduct an independent investigation into allegations regarding COVID-19 practices.

Specifically, allegations claim that football coaches have "told players not to report COVID-19 symptoms, threatened players with reduced playing time if they quarantine and claim CSU is altering contact tracing reports to keep players practicing," per Miles Blumhardt of the Coloradoan.

CSU football is led by head coach Steve Addazio, who joined the program in December after seven seasons at Boston College. The 61-year-old also led Temple's program from 2011-2012.

Sean Keeler of the Denver Post provided more exclusive information on current players' plans:

"Seniors and upperclassmen on the Rams football team, a group of roughly 20, met in person Friday night, a source told The Post, to discuss the most recent charges. The group also discussed drafting a teamwide petition of support for Addazio, who was hired to replace Mike Bobo last December, and for the current staff.

"The petition would attest that the coaches had not acted in any racially insensitive way and treated players with respect.

"CSU players plan to meet Saturday morning on campus, in person, to discuss Parker’s announcement, lingering concerns over COVID-19 protocol and to gather signatures on the petition before its release, the source said."

ESPN's Andrea Adelson reported that former player development coach and ex-CSU quarterback Anthoney Hill wrote a letter to Parker outlining numerous complaints. Hill was terminated in January, one month after Addazio was hired.

The letter to Parker, which was sent after the termination, read in part as follows, per Adelson:

"I'm more concerned about your conduct in allowing CSU Athletics to become an environment where coaches can exhibit toxic masculinity as well as make racially insensitive comments to black players on your watch. Also, bringing in a new head football coach who tells the graduate assistants within days of knowing them that he 'doesn't give a f--k about their feelings' is contradictory to being 'committed to the holistic development of student-athletes...and of crafting a culture where students thrive.'"

CSU's season is currently scheduled to begin on Sept. 19 against Northern Colorado.