Texas State's men's basketball team played in a racially insensitive climate under Danny Kaspar, according to two former players who said the coach directed ethnic jokes and various stereotypes at minority players.
Former Bobcats point guard Jaylen Shead tweeted his allegations Thursday. He said Kaspar told a roster of predominantly black players to "chase that chicken" when he wanted them to run faster and told players who didn't exceed a 2.2 GPA that they would end up working at Popeyes.
Kaspar also suggested he would have an international player deported, according to Shead, who played for two seasons at Cal Poly before transferring to Texas State and ended his college career at Washington State last season.
In his tweet, Shead wrote that in practice, when Kaspar wanted players to speed up, the coach told them they would run faster if a "brown man with a [turban] and an AK-47" entered the gym.
"I could overlook the way he disregarded the rules and our health," Shead said in the tweet. "But I could not turn away from the many racially insensitive things that were said to me and other teammates."
With all this going on, let's talk about what I and other players dealt w playing 🏀 for Danny Kaspar at Texas State. Many asked why the starting PG on a 25 win, 1st place contender team would transfer before his senior szn.. well👇🏽 pic.twitter.com/Du2VSSOKMl— JaylenShead™️ (@thejayyshead) June 4, 2020
Alex Peacock, Shead's former teammate who graduated in 2019, told ESPN he witnessed every transgression that was mentioned in his friend's tweet.
"There is no embellishment in what he said," Peacock said.
Peacock also said Kaspar threatened to use racial slurs, which Shead's tweet referenced, after hearing the team's black players use a variation of the N-word among one another.
"He told the black players that if you can use it, I can use it," Peacock said. "That's one of the ones where you're like, 'OK ... no.' Those are two different meanings than when we use it."
In a statement Friday, Texas State athletic director Larry Teis said the school is opening an investigation into the allegations.
"I personally find these allegations deeply troubling," Teis said. "I, and the entire Department of Athletics staff, take the concerns expressed by our former student-athletes very seriously. At my request, the university has launched a formal investigation through the Office of Equal Opportunity and Title IX. It is our top priority to fully cooperate with the investigation."
Shead said the current climate throughout the country encouraged him to make his claims public.
Since the death of George Floyd, protests have erupted throughout the United States, sparking a national conversation about race and police brutality. Floyd, a black man, was killed last week in Minneapolis after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes.
"I just feel like with everything going on, we are looking for leaders," Shead told ESPN. "Not just black leaders, but leaders of all colors in positions of power. Especially in the basketball community. A lot of our life in college is dependent on a coach and how they guide us. I just want there to be better guidance from coaches. The ones that are doing good jobs to keep doing good jobs, and the ones who may have been questioned, or something like that, to step up and help us the same way somebody helped them."
Peacock said Kaspar often proclaimed his power, telling players, "This is my locker room, not yours."
Peacock said players feared they would lose their scholarships or reputations if they expressed their concerns. He also said the players didn't want to affect the careers of the team's assistant coaches by speaking up.
By the end of his time at Texas State under Kaspar, Peacock said, he hated practice and lost his love for the game.
"The first time I heard him tell somebody to 'chase that bucket of chicken,' I'm like, 'Hold on,'" Peacock said of Kaspar. "Being a player, it's hard to come out when you're in it, when you're playing, because you don't know what the ramifications will be."
Shead said players had grown numb to Kaspar's comments but would often discuss them.
"We would talk about it; we would converse," Shead said. "It got to a point, we would be in the locker room, he would say something, we would laugh it off, go about our day. We would revisit some things, like, man, that's really messed up, what he said. Eventually one day somebody's going to say something. It just so happened I would be the one."
Kaspar took over at Texas State in 2013 after 13 seasons as the head coach at Stephen F. Austin and nine as the head coach at Incarnate Word, then an NAIA school. He made one NCAA tournament appearance at Stephen F. Austin and won the Southland Conference regular-season title in four of his final six seasons with the Lumberjacks. Kaspar hasn't been to the NCAA tournament with Texas State, but his team has finished in the top three of the Sun Belt in three of the past four seasons. He also spent time as an assistant coach at Baylor, Stephen F. Austin, Division II Midwestern State and Lamar.
A native of Corpus Christi, Texas, Kaspar played at Texas A&I (now Texas A&M-Kingsville), McLennan Community College and North Texas.
Shead said he hopes Kaspar becomes a racially sensitive coach going forward.
"I think if he wants to continue to coach young black men, he needs to learn what path he's pushing them on and find a different way to guide them," Shead said. "The way he's been guiding them is definitely not the right way."