Creighton University has suspended its men's head basketball coach after he admitted to making a "terribly inappropriate analogy" when he told his players not to "leave the plantation."
Coach Greg McDermott issued a contrite statement acknowledging his "egregious mistake" and apologizing to those hurt by his comments.
"On February 27th, after an emotionally tough loss on the road, I addressed our student-athletes and staff in the postgame locker room and used a terribly inappropriate analogy in making a point about staying together as a team despite the loss," McDermott said in a statement posted to Twitter earlier this week. "Specifically, I said: 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."
"I immediately recognized my egregious mistake and quickly addressed my use of such insensitive words with the team," he added. "I have never used that analogy and it is not indicative of who I am as a person or as a coach. I am deeply sorry."
Bruce Rasmussen, the university's director of athletics, announced on Thursday evening that McDermott had been suspended "from all team activities" for an undisclosed period of time.
Rasmussen said that he engaged in discussion with senior leaders at the university "regarding appropriate sanctions for the remarks" that "were not in alignment with Creighton's commitment to racial equity, diversity and respect."
"Coach McDermott and the team have accepted that, effective immediately, he is suspended from all team activities, including Saturday's home season finale against Butler," Rasmussen added. "Further sanctions remain under consideration, not all of which will be shared publicly."
Al Huss, an assistant coach, has been named interim head coach.
The university's basketball team dons the word "equality" on their uniforms, ESPN reported.
The saga comes as the world of sports has faced immense pressure to combat systemic racism head-on, especially in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd last year.
The NBA was forced to postpone playoff games in August after players boycotted to protest racial injustice.