How Pitt Athletics has responded publicly to the ongoing Black Lives Matter Demonstrations
By WPTS Sports Staff
Since Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck resulting in Floyd’s death; outrage, sorrow, and passionate demands for change in policing have spread throughout the country. Many of Pitt’s coaches and administrators have shared their thoughts online in the wake of this tragedy. Official accounts also participated in the #BlackOutTuesday initiative.
Here’s what they had to say.
Note: This post will be updated as more coaches and officials add their thoughts and sentiments. Read the official WPTS Radio statement on these events here. Bookmark wptsradio.org/resources for an updating list of pertinent resources.
MBB Head Coach Jeff Capel
Capel has been among the most active in the Pitt community sharing countless messages on his twitter page including words from Dr. King and NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as well as various videos and photos from protests nationwide.
A 1967 speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr at Stanford University. 53 years later, we are still facing the same issues! It’s time for EVERYONE to realize things MUST change! And it’s time for those that are against racism and inequality to be ALL IN to make this happen. #LISTEN pic.twitter.com/AGgtHiVHVF
— Jeff Capel (@jeffcapel) May 31, 2020
Powerful and passionate! I urge everyone to read this today. When I saw the videos of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, all I could think about was my players. You can feel the frustration and anger in every word @Jakelawler42 wrote in this piece! Thank you, Jake! https://t.co/WB0mOsxAg9
— Jeff Capel (@jeffcapel) May 28, 2020
Capel also responded to fans who were critical of his speaking out.
I’m not picking sides. NOTHING I HAVE SAID IS POLITICAL. You have NO idea what political affiliation I am. You can’t know because I DON’T know! But this is what you do! It’s OBVIOUS you didn’t listen to the message. You and people like YOU ARE THE PROBLEM! Stay off my timeline! https://t.co/ThdOqr6d7w
— Jeff Capel (@jeffcapel) May 31, 2020
Capel exchanged comments and words of encouragement with former players from his Duke days as well, such as Celtics F Jayson Taytum and Heat C Justise Winslow, as well as Robert Morris Head Basketball Coach Andy Toole.
— Jeff Capel (@jeffcapel) May 31, 2020
My guy!!! A real dude right here!!!
— Jeff Capel (@jeffcapel) May 30, 2020
Late Tuesday, Capel shared a statement written by his players.
I love and support my guys 100%! After wonderful conversations, and careful thoughts, these are THEIR words! Our job as adults and leaders is to educate, inspire, challenge, believe, and help them grow as young men! I am proud to be their coach! THEY MATTER! HEAR THEM!
— Jeff Capel (@jeffcapel) June 2, 2020
The statement reads
We came to the University of Pittsburgh to pursue and education, to become better basketball players and hopefully do well enough to seek a professional career playing the game we love. the past year has taught us that life can change overnight. The recent and senseless deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor make it clear that we have a larger purpose. We have the opportunity to be the voice of our generation and use our platform to be a catalyst for change. For far too long, social injustice, police brutality and inequality have plagued people of color. We can no longer settle for a society that leans on stereotypes, is quick to judge and slow to take action against its demons. We may not have the words to always express how we feel and we do not have all the answers. Hoeever, we are committed to following the lead of Coach Capel and stand in solidarity with all those seeking justice, change and a better way of life for all people.
FB Head Coach Pat Narduzzi
As one of the Universities’ highest paid employees and the leader of Pitt’s most visible program, Narduzzi was subject to criticism for his perceived silence on the matter before releasing a “Notes” statement late Tuesday afternoon.
— Pat Narduzzi (@CoachDuzzPittFB) June 2, 2020
Following a conversation with our football team today, I felt compelled to comment. I am not one to post on social media beyond Pitt football and my job as head coach. My Twitter has stayed away from political or social issues. But after the events of last week, when George Floyd was murdered at the hands of four police officers, I am saddened and sickened. There is no place in the world for evil racism. Our University, and certainly our football program, are committed to working together for a better, more unified society. We are all one and racism should never be tolerated. #BlackLivesMatter #Unity
The Post-Gazette’s John McGonigal compiled a series of tweets from multiple former Pitt Football players critiquing Narduzzi’s silence, including one alarming comment from LB Elias Reynolds who accused Narduzzi of using using weighted terms such as “Thug’ referring to both opposition and Pitt players.
FWIW, three former Pitt football players — Elias Reynolds, Darian Street and Justin Morgan — were critical of Pat Narduzzi last night.
Per Pitt, Reynolds and the program “mutually” parted ways in November. Street transferred in Dec. 2018. And Morgan was dismissed in Aug. 2018. pic.twitter.com/1dAISZOCMD
— John McGonigal (@jmcgonigal9) June 2, 2020
Former third-string Kicker Ian Troost, who demonstrated peacefully by kneeling during the National Anthem before a 2017 game against N.C. State at Heinz Field, tweeted criticism of Pitt Athletics’s and Football’s slow response to calls for a public statement. Narduzzi commented publicly in support of Troost at the time.
Prior to sharing his own statement, Narduzzi’s only public comments were sharing Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher’s statement as well as a quote from Dr. King.
Quiet Time – Accountability – “Things don’t change on their own, things don’t change by waiting for them to change; they change through actions of good people.” Martin Luther King #H2P
— Pat Narduzzi (@CoachDuzzPittFB)
Update: June 3 4:22 pm
Narduzzi praised the charges issued against the other three officers in George Floyd’s murder, as well as the elevation of charges against Chauvin.
— Pat Narduzzi (@CoachDuzzPittFB) June 3, 2020
Director of Athletics Heather Lyke
Lyke issued a short Twitter statement Tuesday.
The past week has been intensely sad. I wanted to take this opportunity to connect with @Pitt_ATHLETICS & Panther nation. I have tremendous empathy for all our African American student-athletes, coaches & staff. We support, love, respect & care for each and everyone of you #H2P
— Heather Lyke (@Pitt_LykeAD) June 2, 2020
Earlier, Lyke shared a statement from her former boss, The Ohio State University AD Gene Smith, one of 29 black ADs in the country.
Some thoughts about the events that transpired this week: pic.twitter.com/axE3rwsfPz
— gene smith (@OSU_AD) May 29, 2020
Lyke also shared a statement by the Pitt Student Athlete Advisory Council inviting all student-athletes to a Zoom meeting with her and Chancellor Gallagher to discuss the recent events and “voice your thoughts and concerns.”
— Heather Lyke (@Pitt_LykeAD) June 3, 2020
Gymnastics Head Coach Samantha Snider
Snider has been active throughout the last few days, but was the first Pitt coach to share an official statement Monday afternoon.
— Samantha Snider (@TheSamSnider) June 1, 2020
I have been sharing others’ thoughts and words over the last few days because I have struggled with finding my own. I have been overwhelmed with anger, outrage, sadness, disgust, and fear. I am tired of seeing another man or woman become a hashtag, The murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others are tragic and morally reprehensible. I pray for their families and loved ones. I pray for our communities and country that we may all feel compelled to take action so we can see a change in this world. But to see a change you must be part of the change. No act is too small. Use your voice, use your platform, educate yourself, be an agent of change.
Because if not now, then when?”
The Gymnastics program also shared a separate statement, linking to a website with resources to sign petitions, contact officials, and donate, among other resources.
— Pitt Gymnastics (@Pitt_GYM) June 1, 2020
WBB Head Coach Lance White
White tweeted a statement written by members of the Women’s basketball team and coaches emphasizing his support for his players and committing to making change and translate his words into actions.
I stand with my players and always have their back! We are committed to make a change and are actively discussing how we will turn our words into actions. We are in this together and I love my team!! #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/vtozXnTYKC
— Lance White (@Pitt_CoachWhite) June 1, 2020
The statement reads:
“We offer our condolences to the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and the many others who have been affected by police brutality. We want everyone to know that Pitt Women’s basketball stands in solidarity with protestors and Black Lives Matter activists. We will continue to use our platform and our voices to fight for equality and justice for all people, regardless of race. We encourage you to join us all in our fight,”
Earlier, White thanked Pitt Dean of Students Kenyon Bonner for his leadership while sharing Bonner’s statement.
All in Dean Bonner. Thank you for your leadership. https://t.co/x3tbk8Ftk9
— Lance White (@Pitt_CoachWhite) May 30, 2020
We ALL need to be part of the change! Together! https://t.co/dZq7Fy6SYA
— Lance White (@Pitt_CoachWhite) May 30, 2020
Women’s Soccer Head Coach Randy Waldrum
Monday afternoon, Waldrum tweeted a thread of thoughts on the situation before issuing an official statement later that evening.
I’ve been trying to process what’s going on these past few days, and I know one thing for sure. My God teaches me to love my neighbor. He doesn’t put parameters or restrictions with it, he clearly says to love thy neighbor! I fear for my best friend Alvin and his family
— Randy Waldrum (@CoachWaldrum) June 1, 2020
Here’s the full text of the tweet thread:
I’ve been trying to process what’s going on these past few days, and I know one thing for sure. My God teaches me to love my neighbor. He doesn’t put parameters or restrictions with it, he clearly says to love thy neighbor! I fear for my best friend Alvin and his family as they try to navigate this constant injustice. I can’t imagine what that is like, but I know that should never happen in this country! Every individual has the right to live without fear and live with dignity and respect. I asked myself how can I help, what can I do? So… As a soccer community let’s take the lead on this. I don’t have the answers, but we’ll find them. Any coach that wants to help DM me with an email address. @UnitedCoaches and @CoachesBlack lets touch base on how we can help as a unified group to show that #BlackLivesMatter “
— Pitt Women’s Soccer (@Pitt_WSOC) June 1, 2020
The statement reads:
I offer my condolences to the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. Pitt women’s soccer always supports diversity and inclusion and denounces discrimination of race or any other kind. Every individual has the right to live with dignity and respect. I am fearful of the continuation of racism from police and every other sector of our society that affects family, friends, student-athlete and everyone else. I can’t imagine what that is like, but i know it should never happen. I encourage the rest of the soccer community to not just be an active participant, but lead the way to change.
The team shared an official statement Monday evening.
— Pitt Men’s Soccer (@Pitt_MSOC) June 1, 2020
The statement reads:
We stand for change. We stand for equality. We stand for solidarity. We stand for Black Lives
Don’t be silent. It’s time to lead the conversation #OneTeam
Volleyball Head Coach Dan Fisher
Late Monday night, Fisher shared a statement authored by Volleyball student-athletes and coaches with additional comments highlighting the team’s commitment to discussing uncomfortable topics.
— Dan Fisher (@fishercoach) June 2, 2020
Over the past week, we’ve had some powerful internal dialogue as a team, but we realize that in order to affect change, we must raise our voices publicly, as one. that said, we are frustrated, disappointed and appalled at the state of the world, with the rampant injustice, racism and brutality against the black community. The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery are sickening and should never have occurred. We stand with our fellow student-athletes and coaches in Pittsburgh, as well as the nation, in showing support for diversity and inclusion. Black Lives Matter. It’s time to make a change and we are all capable of leading the way.
Softball Head Coach Jodi Hermanak
Hermanak shared messages of support and inclusion on Twitter as protests erupted over the weekend.
Spoken! Listen! Influence! https://t.co/gWeb6SFyko
— Coach Herm (@CoachHerm) May 30, 2020
Update June 3 4:15 pm:
The softball program released the following statement:
— Pitt Softball (@Pitt_SB) June 3, 2020
On behalf of Pitt Softball, we send our love and prayers to the families and loved ones of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and all victims of police brutality and racial victimization. We too feel pain and empathize in the outrage of the senseless acts of violence that have led us here to this place in time where decades of oppressed anger and frustration are living n front of us. We believe that we are all brothers and sisters who can live together respectfully and without harm. We are committed to our belief in diversity and inclusion, to accepting and treating people with Grace, Dignity, and Respect. Members of our program make up a beautiful blend of ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds, and we intentionally embrace those differences because blending them together makes us better humans. The Pitt Softball Family sends our love, courage and prayers to our fellow Panthers, the city of Pittsburgh, and our fellow Americans. We are in this together and we promise to do our part!
Wrestling Head Coach Keith Gavin
Gavin, a former Pitt wrestler himself, shared a statement Tuesday morning.
— Keith Gavin (@keithgavin84) June 2, 2020
It’s embarrassing and appalling that we are still seeing racism and hate in our society. I certainly don’t have all the answers and i can’t imagine what it must feel like to be treated unjustly because of the color of my skin. But I do know that in order to create any real and lasting change, it’s going to take a commitment from all of us to continually stand up against this inequality and injustice.
Track and Field Head Coach Alonzo Webb
Webb shared a statement of support Monday, emphasizing the opportunity for meaningful dialogue that would arise from the ongoing demonstrations.
🗣 A statement from Head Coach Alonzo Webb. pic.twitter.com/1LRhQJ7ehK
— Pitt TF/XC (@Pitt_TF_XC) June 1, 2020
The full statement reads:
I’ve never been a fan of rioting to get a point across but i understand the frustration especially when you see so many injustices., past and most recently with George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. Pitt Track & Field absolutely supports diversity and inclusion to the fullest and stand against any form of racism or discrimination. I’ve always looked at the glass half-full as opposed to half-empty and I believe that every dark cloud has a silver lining. This is an opportunity for dialogue. An opportunity to understand and appreciate our differences and to stand with and for the black community as we all go through this extraordinary experience. We can all support progress and eliminate hate.
Swim and Dive
The Swim and Dive team issued a statement embracing their diversity Tuesday morning.
— Pitt Swim & Dive (@Pitt_SWIM_DIVE) June 2, 2020
As a program with student-athletes of various races and religions from around the world, Pitt Swimming & Diving embraces our diversity. We are a proud family. And right now, our family is extremely upset about what has happened in recent days, Racism and violence agaisnt the black community has no place in this world. We have to talk about it. And perhaps more importantly, we have to listen. Support each other. Love each other. Take action to eliminate hate. We all can do more. We all must do more. Let’s build a better future. Together.
WLAX Head Coach Emily Boissonneault
Pitt’s newest Head Coach, tasked with building the Women’s Lacrosse team from scratch, offered her condolences to victims of racism and prejudice Tuesday morning.
— Emily Boissonneault (@EmBoissonneault) June 2, 2020
Her full statement reads:
I want to offer my condolences to everyone who has endured and continues to experience situations of prejudice and racism. I want to validate and acknowledge these experiences —you are heard and we stand with you! The Pitt lacrosse program takes a strong stand against racism and discrimination of any kind. We are wholeheartedly committed to the fight for justice and equality for all people.
Deputy Athletics Director Christian Spears
Spears noted that he doesn’t normally utilize social media for advocacy
My social media has never been used this way. Over the last few days, everything has changed. I take this stand and pledge to fight racism. I will give to and use these resources. I will be an ally and an advocate and we will win this fight. https://t.co/D3cE97JdC5
— Christian Spears (@CSpears_H2P) June 1, 2020
FB Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line Coach Charlie Partridge
In sharing the Blackout Tuesday image, Partridge added a personal apology to those who have faced injustice and emphasized the importance of listening to those affected.
We must do better as nation and a society… together. When it is time, we must stand up. When it is time, we must listen. I am so sorry for anyone who has faced injustice. #BlackLivesMatter #BlackOutTuesday pic.twitter.com/w0j7sqUM9q
— Charlie Partridge (@CoachPartridge) June 2, 2020
Update June 4 12:30pm:
Partridge offered some timely praise for the open dialogue and resulting actions he sees among the Pitt football program.
— Charlie Partridge (@CoachPartridge) June 4, 2020
FB Strength and Conditioning Coach Mike Stacchiotti
Stacchiotti, in his first season as the Panther’s strength coach , was among the first from that staff to issue a statement early Tuesday afternoon.
— Mike Stacchiotti (@coachstacc) June 2, 2020
Fear of not saying the right thing and offending someone halted my response but it is clear that it is not a time and place for fear. What happened to George Floyd and so many more in this country for centuries is absolutely evil. Racism is and has been a blatant issue in this country and it needs to change. I am disgusted I am saddened but above all, I am sorry. I am sorry for all that I will never understand or experience. I can only hope that I can be cognizant of the world around me so I can better coach my athletes with as much understanding and empathy as possible. To all my current and former athletes, my friends and anyone else who cares, you have my support and always have. I appreciate all that can and will help to bring more understanding to me to make me a better person. Strive for Liberty, strive for change, and Hail to Pitt.
MBB Alum/Assistant Director of Operations Ronald Ramon
Over the weekend, Ramon took to Twitter to share his personal experiences as a minority and a father.
Black, Spanish, Immigrant are the 3 strikes I have had to deal with my entire life. I had to explain to my 5 year old what happened to Floyd and it was the hardest thing in the world. REPENTANCE – “is a call to persons to make a radical turn from one way of life to another. “
— Ronald Ramon (@Doubler14) May 31, 2020
MBB Assistant Coach Milan Brown
The former Holy Cross head coach and current Pitt assistant, a graduate of Howard University, shared his personal thoughts Saturday as violence escalated.
Unsettled, angry & disgusted are my feelings about the senseless death of George Floyd. Police brutality on the black community is again on full display. It’s disheartening that our country continues to suffer from racism and social injustice. Together we must make change happen.
— Milan Brown (@coachmbrown) May 30, 2020
MBB Assistant Coach Tim O’Toole
O’Toole offered words of wisdom encouraging serving “brothers in need” Monday morning and shared his team’s statement late in the day.
“I sought my soul, but my soul I could not see. I sought my God, but my God eluded me. I sought to serve my brother in his need, and I found all three.” William Blake #togetherweallwin
— Tim O’Toole (@CoachTimOToole) June 1, 2020
WBB Assistant Coach Terri Mitchell
Along with praising her team’s statement and Coach White’s leadership on the issues, Mitchell tweeted to focus on the positives of engagement coming from the protests.
Light overcomes darkness. On this Pentecost Sunday, praying Holy Spirit floods our nation w/truth, strength n peace. Let’s focus on the positive words/actions coming from protests-flood social media with that and NOT the negative. What can each of us do? U can make a difference!
— Terri Mitchell (@CoachTerri_Pitt) May 31, 2020
WBB Assistant Coach Josh Petersen
Along with sharing a reminder to vote in Pennsylvanians primary elections Tuesday, Petersen praised the team’s statement and shared the personal experiences of one of his good friends.
This group gives me hope for a better day! It is our duty as leaders to empower, educate, and guide. We are entrusted with the care of young women.
— Josh Petersen (@PITT_CoachP) June 1, 2020
This pains me to hear from one of my good friends @ZakDavis19, truly sends chills down my back. Empathy is one of the most powerful emotions, but i will never know this pain. However, I know I LOVE THIS MAN! https://t.co/eQUYYLg49u
— Josh Petersen (@PITT_CoachP) May 30, 2020
Update 4:40 pm: Pitt Cheerleading
The Pitt Spirit Program released a statement Wednesday afternoon.
— Pitt Cheerleading (@Pitt_Cheer) June 3, 2020
Our heartfelt sympathies go out to all of those, and especially in the family of George Floyd, who have suffered injustice and discrimination. Our hope is for all individuals to ask themselves what they can do to ensure all people are treated with dignity, fairness, respect and most of all love. We stand in unity as advocates for true social change and healing of our society