Utah defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley suspended after use of a racial slur in a 2013 text message becomes public

Yahoo Sports

Utah said Friday that defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley had been suspended after the school had seen a social media post containing a text from Scalley that included a racial slur.

Utah athletic director Mark Harlan said in a statement that Scalley had admitted to using the racist language in 2013 and the school would start a third-party review to see if there is a pattern of behavior.

“On Wednesday night I was made aware of a social media post that referenced a 2013 text message that included racist language, sent by our football program’s defensive coordinator, Morgan Scalley,” Harlan said in a statement. “I initiated conversations with our campus partners, including President Watkins, and we agreed to have outside firm review this matter to seek further details and determine whether this was an isolated incident.

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“Coach Scalley and I have spoken. He is very contrite and acknowledged that the text was sent and that it did include a derogatory and painful word.”

“The use of any form of racist language is not only antithetical to our policies and our values, but is an affront to all of us, especially our African-American community members. While the review of this matter is being conducted, I have placed Morgan on suspension effective immediately.”

Later Friday, former Utah cornerback Ryan Lacy said on Twitter that Scalley directed a racial slur toward him as well.

Scalley apologizes, accepts suspension

Scalley said in a statement that he regretted using the word and that he accepted the suspension given to him by the school. He called his use of the slur “indefensible.”

“In 2013 I made a terrible mistake,” Scalley said. “I used a racial slur in a text message. This language is offensive and hurtful to not only the African-American community but to all. Immediately after sending it, I apologized to the recipient and his family.

“I am also heartbroken over the potential breach of trust with my fellow coaches, and with the young men in our program, both past and present.”

“I am truly sorry and I own up to the hurtful effects of my choice. Through my actions and words going forward, I will demonstrate that my use of that slur in 2013 does not reflect or define who I am or what I stand for. My action is indefensible and I will use my voice and position to bring about meaningful and much-needed change.”

Morgan Scalley is entering his fifth season as Utah's defensive coordinator. (Photo by Boyd Ivey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Morgan Scalley is entering his fifth season as Utah's defensive coordinator. (Photo by Boyd Ivey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Kyle Whittingham ‘disappointed and shocked’

Longtime Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said he was “disappointed and shocked” to learn about what Scalley said in 2013. Whittingham has been Utah’s coach since he took over after Urban Meyer at the end of the 2004 season.

“I was disappointed and shocked to learn this week of a text message sent by Morgan Scalley in 2013 that contains a racial slur,” Whittingham said. “I take very seriously the hurt, pain and anger felt by African-Americans and the power of words to inflict or deepen that pain. Although this incident is inconsistent with the character and conduct of the person I have known and worked closely with for more than two decades, Morgan’s use of racist language is a very serious matter and I am supportive of the suspension while a more thorough outside review is conducted.”

Longtime Utah assistant

Scalley has been an assistant at Utah for 13 seasons and the team’s defensive coordinator and safeties coach for the last four. He played safety for the school and joined the football program in an administrative role in 2006 after his playing career concluded in 2004.

He’s regarded as one of the brightest defensive coordinators in college football and has been seen as the likely successor to Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. Scalley was a finalist for the Broyles Award in 2019. The award is given to the best assistant coach in college football and was won by former LSU passing game coordinator Joe Brady.

Utah’s defense was the best defense in the Pac-12 in 2019 as the Utes won the Pac-12 South and lost to Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Utah allowed fewer than 82 rushing yards per game and opponents scored over seven points against the Utes in just eight of 14 games. 

Less than two days before Utah announced Scalley’s suspension, Oregon State dismissed a player from its team after a recording of him making racist and bigoted remarks emerged.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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