Brandeis leadership reportedly knew of fired basketball coach's racist behavior longer than we thought

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Brandeis University is weathering a storm of accusations after a Deadspin report detailed racist behavior from former basketball coach Brian Meehan. (AP Photo)
Brandeis University is weathering a storm of accusations after a Deadspin report detailed racist behavior from former basketball coach Brian Meehan. (AP Photo)

As often happens with athletic scandals, it appears things on the Brandeis University basketball team were even worse than we learned last week, when a Deadspin report detailed a litany of racist behavior from fired coach Brian Meehan.

A new report from Deadspin now indicates that Brandeis leadership possibly knew of Meehan’s alleged behavior as far back as 2013, with the school’s athletic director and president being personally informed by a player’s parent in 2014. All told, Deadspin reports that three parents of former Brandeis players, four former players and one former student manager have come forward with their own stories of Meehan’s racist behavior.

Per the report, former Brandeis player Ryne Williams received two years of harsh treatment from Meehan, treatment he felt was disproportionate compared to what the white players on the team received. Williams, who was one of the few black players on the team, reportedly complained about Meehan’s behavior in a 2013 survey.

Once informed he would be played sparingly during his junior year, Williams decided to quit the team. He and his mother provided emails to Deadspin indicating they had told Sheryl Sousa, Brandeis’ former athletic director and current vice president of student affairs; Lynne Dempsey, the school’s currently suspended athletic director; and Fred Lawrence, the former president of Brandeis of Meehan’s behavior. William’s mother also recalled a conversation she had with Sousa.

I called Sousa, told her about those situations. [Sousa] said ‘Well, you know, it could be that some of those boys are better.’ I said, ‘It’s not even the playing, it’s the inappropriate behavior by Meehan.’ She said, ‘Well, he’s always saying nice things about Ryne.’ And then I said, ‘If he said all those nice things about my boy, why’d he call him a mother[expletive]?’ She got real quiet. She got real quiet.

Williams’ treatment is the first example of racist behavior detailed in the initial report, which included Meehan saying “I’ll ship you back to Africa” to a black player and “Oh, I don’t want to sit next to him because I’ll get Ebola.” He also reportedly said to another black player wearing the white part of a black and white reversible jersey, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, that being white must be a “dream come true” for him.

In addition to complaints of racism, the report also alleges that Meehan had a habit of calling a Jewish student manager “Jew boy.” Brandeis is now reportedly undergoing an independent investigation of Meehan’s behavior and the school’s handling of it.

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