UCI Coach Russell Turner Apologizes for Homophobic Taunts of Opposing Player in March Madness Loss

UC Irvine coach Russell Turner talks to the media after loss to Oregon. (UCI photo)

UC Irvine men’s basketball coach Russell Turner has apologized for sexist and homophobic remarks he directed toward an Oregon player during Sunday’s loss in the NCAA tournament.

“I would like to address my post-game comments,” Turner says in a statement UCI issued this afternoon. “I recognize my actions were inappropriate and insensitive. I share UC Irvine’s belief that inclusivity and diversity are paramount values, and I apologize for not understanding that my actions during the game suggested otherwise.”

Throughout UCI’s second March Madness game this tourney–and only the university’s third such game ever–Turner referred to Ducks forward Louis King as “queen” while yelling instructions to his team. Then, in the postgame interview after UCI’s 73-54 loss, the coach laughed off the taunts. See the video:


“I was saying double-team queen to try to see if I could irritate him,” Turner told reporters. “And I did. And I kept talking to my team about what we wanted to do. We were calling him queen because I knew it might irritate him.”

In the light of Monday, he may have also irritated the Irvine student body, professors and administrators–as he had fans, players, coaches and sports commentators around the country–considering the rest of Turner’s apology.

“I respect Oregon’s men’s basketball program, its student-athletes, and its coaches,” he says. “Since the conclusion of the game, I have spoken to Louis, his parents, and to Oregon’s head coach Dana Altman. They have graciously accepted my explanation and apology.

“I take seriously my responsibility as a campus and community leader, and I regret that my actions during the Oregon game did not meet the standard of leadership I should consistently set.  For that, I apologize to the UC Irvine community, including the student-athletes and coaches of our men’s basketball program. When student-athletes on our team make mistakes, I expect them to take responsibility and to learn from their mistakes in order to improve themselves. I will do the same. I accept full responsibility for my ill-considered actions, and I will learn from this situation to be a more thoughtful coach and competitor.”

At least one wag called for Turner to do more.

“While it’s important that Turner called the direct target of his taunts, he did absolutely nothing to acknowledge the harm words like his cause gay, bisexual, trans and queer boys and young men, some of whom may be on his team or coaching staff, on the Oregon team or staff, or fans who had to endure his nonsense,” writes SB Nation’s Cyd Zeigler, who called on the coach to speak with LQBT community members in and out of sports, invite a professional to work with him and his staff, and talk publicly about the harm he caused and the inclusiveness he will foster going forward.

But Zeigler’s got nothing on tennis legend Martina Navratilova, who tweeted “This guy should be gone …”


https://ocweekly.com/uci-punches-out-cal-state-fullerton-punches-ticket-to-ncaa-march-madness-tourney/

Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.

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