Utah State players opted out of Saturday’s game at Colorado State due to comments from University President Noelle Cockett on Tuesday, expressing concerns about the head coach’s religious and cultural background Acting Frank Maile, learned Stadium.
After Tuesday’s Zoom call with Cockett and athletic director John Hartwell to discuss Maile’s candidacy for the Utah state job, the team’s board of directors raised questions about Cockett’s comments regarding Maile, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Players were so “stunned” by Cockett’s comments that a player conducted an anonymous player-only survey asking players if they were on the zoom call and if they were concerned about anything they had. heard at the meeting.
About three-quarters of the team that responded Thursday said they were concerned about religious prejudices against Maile by Cockett. The players said they did not believe the Zoom call was recorded.
Neither player was aware of the other’s responses and responded individually.
On Friday morning, at a players-only meeting that lasted over an hour, the players voted unanimously not to play the season finale because of these issues. The coaching staff did not know about the players’ meeting until after it was concluded. The Aggies finished the year 1-5.
The team made the following statement at the stadium:
“Utah State soccer players have opted out of our game against Colorado State due to persistent inequalities and damaging issues between players, coaches and the administration of the USU.
“On Tuesday, December 8, the Utah State University Football Board of Directors held a zoom meeting with Noelle Cockett, USU President, and John Hartwell, Athletic Director. The purpose of the meeting was to have a say in the search for our new head coach. During the meeting, we expressed our support for interim head coach Frank Maile. In response to our comments, their main concern was its religious and cultural background. The players, stating their various faiths and origins, then went on to stand up for coach Frank Maile by treating everyone with love, equality and fairness.
“This is not the first time that problems of repeated discrimination have arisen. In December 2019, our equipment manager used a racial insult against one of our African-American teammates. After ignoring the incident, pressure resurfaced to investigate in the summer of 2020. After the investigation, the administration concluded that he would continue to be employed.
“We want our message to be clear that this has nothing to do with the hiring of coach Blake Anderson, the recently appointed program head coach. We are sure he is an excellent coach; we can’t wait to meet him and his team. We highlight the persistent issues of inequality and wish to create a better future for the community of Logan and Utah State University. ”
On Thursday, the state of Arkansas announced that Anderson had resigned and accepted another head coaching position. Several sources said Anderson was hired in the state of Utah, although the Aggies have not officially announced the hiring.
Maile is a Utah State graduate and was an assistant for the Aggies from 2009 to 2013 before coaching at Vanderbilt from 2014 to 2015. In 2016, he returned to the state of Utah as a ‘assistant head coach and defensive co-coordinator, a position he has held for the past five seasons.
Hartwell and Cockett did not immediately respond to interview requests.
The team was scheduled to leave Logan, Utah, for Fort Collins at 4 p.m. KST Friday night.