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Basketball coach out at USF after alleged racially charged comments spark investigation

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Posted at 11:23 PM, Jun 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-15 23:23:21-04

TAMPA, Fla. — A University of South Florida men’s basketball coach is off the job after he allegedly made several racially charged comments, sparking an independent investigation.

University officials announced Tuesday assistant coach Tom Herrion is no longer with the team, three months after it was released that multiple student-athletes came forward complaining about racist remarks.

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“It is highly disappointing that the review confirmed isolated actions involving Coach Herrion’s interactions with student-athletes that are simply unacceptable,” said Michael Kelly, USF Vice President of Athletics.

Investigators interviewed more than a dozen staff members and current and former players during the course of the review.

Three of the four comments were substantiated, with two of those found in violation of the school’s misconduct policy.

During a summer workout in 2020, Herrion reportedly had a racist response to a player who was wearing a sweatshirt stating “Support Black Colleges.” Herrion denied making the comment.

In January, the report says Herrion told a student during a drill to move faster, “like the police were chasing you.” That student-athlete and several others found the comment to be racially motivated and a play on a stereotype between Black people and police.

Herrion later told investigators that the comment was “misguided” but racially motivated. He says it was a specific reference to an actual encounter that a player had with police.


“This is a time where diversity really matters,” said Yvette Lewis with NAACP Hillsborough. Everybody should have a right to feel comfortable in the workplace and school should have that opportunity and it should not be taken or stripped away because of someone’s old personal views.”

The independent review found the men’s basketball program is “proactive in addressing racial issues” and does not have a hostile or problematic culture as it relates to race.

“I was pleased to see the report’s findings that head coach Brian Gregory and our administration are, and have been, operating in accordance with the University of South Florida’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, and that our processes for ensuring those commitments are upheld,” Kelly said. “Overall, the review reaffirms my belief in Coach Gregory’s leadership of our program. Moving forward, our entire athletic department will continue to be dedicated to fostering an inclusive environment that allows every student-athlete to thrive.”