A tweet sent out by Mississippi State coach Mike Leach caused one of his players to transfer.
Leach, entering his first season at MSU, apologized last week after sending out a tweet with an image that depicted a woman knitting a noose for her husband with the caption, “After 2 weeks of quarantine with her husband, Gertrude decided to knit him a scarf.”
Several MSU players reacted negatively to the tweet, which was sent out Wednesday night and deleted by Leach on Thursday morning. One of those players was sophomore defensive tackle Fabien Lovett. Lovett responded simply by saying, “wtf.” He also retweeted Fox analyst Shannon Sharpe, who sent out a video with commentary very critical of Leach.
Given the history of Emmett Till and lynchings in the state of Mississippi, Mike Leach, as the head coach of Mississippi State, you seriously thought it would be cool to post a picture that had a noose in it? (1/2) pic.twitter.com/OV9BLqgxDL— shannon sharpe (@ShannonSharpe) April 3, 2020
Lovett shared Leach’s tweet with his father and also spoke with a few MSU coaches. By Friday, Lovett and his father decided it was best for Lovett to leave Mississippi State. Lovett’s father, Abdual Lovett, explained the decision making to the Clarion Ledger:
The father said he questioned Leach's ability to lead because he says "whatever whenever."
"I didn't feel comfortable with my son being down there with a guy like that from a leadership standpoint — that you can just throw anything out there," Abdual told the Clarion Ledger on Saturday. "I feel if he can do it, the kids are going to feel like they can do it."
Leach, who has run into issues based on his Twitter activity in the past, said in his apology that he regretted if his “choice of images were found offensive” and that he had “no intention of offending anyone.”
Abdual Lovett questioned the sincerity of Leach’s apology and said the coach has not addressed the team about his tweet. Per the Clarion Ledger, he also said a noose “carries a negative connotation” for many black people in America.
One of the Mississippi State coaches sent Leach's number to Abdual Lovett so the two could talk, but the father didn't want to reach out to Leach.
"If he was sincere about it, he should at least call me instead of it being the other way around," he said of Leach. "At least text my number if you can't call me. He hasn't called, unlike these other coaches who are trying to recruit [Fabien]."
Leach (currently quarantined in Key West) was hired by Mississippi State in January after the school fired Joe Moorhead. Before getting his SEC opportunity, Leach spent 10 seasons as head coach at Texas Tech and another eight at Washington State.
Lovett totaled 19 tackles in 11 games in 2019. He appeared in two games and took a redshirt in 2018, his first season on campus.
Leach’s previous Twitter controversies
During his time at Washington State, Leach controversially tweeted out a doctored video of President Barack Obama. The video was edited to make it appear like Obama was saying things much differently than he actually was during a 2014 speech.
Leach eventually deleted the video after arguing back-and-forth with several Twitter users who replied to him. He later said he was “not particularly sorry” about sending out the misleading video.
Washington State later claimed the situation cost the university $1.6 million in pledged donations.
In February, Leach sent out and later deleted tweets critical of Sen. Mitt Romney, the only Republican senator to vote against President Donald Trump in his impeachment trial. Leach is a vocal Trump supporter.
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