Morgan Scalley allowed to keep his job, but will take pay cut and is no longer ‘head coach in waiting’

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Utah defensive coordinator sent racist text in 2013

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Utah defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley will be allowed to keep his job, but will have to take a pay cut, and his title of “head coach in waiting” has been removed.

Athletic director Mark Harlan and head coach Kyle Whittingham sent out a letter today saying that Scalley will have to take a pay cut from $1.1 million to $525,000, and will also have to participate in diversity inclusion education.

Scalley was suspended indefinitely on June 5th when it was discovered that he sent out a text to a recruit in 2013 that contained racist language.

On a conference call, Scalley broke down in tears while apologizing.

“I want to apologize to the young men I have coached and am coaching currently,” Scalley said. “I had the opportunity to address the full team yesterday morning and I expressed to them the complete embarrassment I feel for having hurt them. I apologize. I’m particularly mindful of the young men of color who I have had the blessing of coaching.”

Harlan hired an independent firm, Husch Blackwell, to conduct an investigation into Scalley’s behavior. The investigators conducted interviews with 35 people, including 23 current and former members of the football team and 15 current and former employees and football program consultants.

Harlan decided not to fire Scalley.

“Why is he here? He’s here because the young men professed in some cases their love for him,” Harlan said.

How will this affect Scalley’s ability to recruit people of color? Head coach Kyle Whittingham hopes it won’t.

“Morgan has proven to be an outstanding recruiter through the years,” Whittingham said. “In fact, 51 of the 57 that he has signed to our program are minority players. He’s going to have to work extra hard to get some of that trust back. But I have no that will happen in time.”

“I understand that my insensitivity and extreme lack of judgement have caused some, if not all of you, to lose trust and faith in me,” Scalley said. “I sincerely hope that you will give me the opportunity to gain that trust back.”

Here are the findings from the investigation:

The investigation revealed that Scalley acknowledged that he inadvertently texted a racial slur to a recruit in 2013 while exchanging texts with another coach. The coach’s recollection of that event is consistent with Scalley’s.

Almost all the current and former student-athletes interviewed described being “shocked”
when they learned about Scalley’s use of the racial slur from media reports. Most of the
current and former student-athletes interviewed did not report ever hearing Scalley or any
of the other coaches use racial slurs or make derogatory comments. Numerous studentathletes explained that they do not view Scalley as racist.

Two former student-athletes reported that, prior to 2013, Scalley used the words “Black
ass” when addressing a player during practice. The former player was interviewed and
confirmed the use of the words during the 2012 football season but described a different
fact pattern than described by the other two student-athletes. Scalley denied this
allegation.

Several former student-athletes reported Scalley making comments about their hair,
appearance, or clothing that they believe implicated racial stereotypes and demonstrated a
lack of interest in understanding them. Scalley denied treating any of his players
differently due to race.

Most of the student-athletes interviewed described having a positive relationship with
Scalley. He was characterized as a tough coach who pushes players hard on the field.
Student-athletes also described him as aggressive, emotional, and someone who cares
about his players.

The employees interviewed agreed that Scalley is known for being a tough coach who
holds players accountable. Members of the coaching staff described him as direct,
loving, smart, firm, knowledgeable, and intense. He was also described as someone who
jokes around and likes having fun.

Several coaches and former and current players said Scalley can be intimidating and
intense in his coaching style. It was reported that Scalley yells frequently and may
verbally attack the players before apologizing. Scalley denies that he verbally attacks
players.

One former student-athlete alleged that, prior to 2013, Scalley used the N-word toward
him at practice. Three former student-athletes stated that the former student-athlete
informed them of this allegation while they were on the football team. None of the
former student-athletes interviewed about the alleged incident said they observed it.
None of the coaching staff, including Head Coach Kyle Whittingham, or leadership
consultants were previously aware of or could corroborate this allegation. Scalley denied
the allegation.

One employee alleged during his interview, and two other employees corroborated, that
Scalley made a racist “joke” regarding Polynesians and Native Americans at practice in 2018. Scalley admitted telling the “joke.”

Here is the letter from Harlan and Whittingham:

“At a time in our country’s history when issues of racism and injustice have rightly led all of us to
important conversations that we fully embrace, we have been confronted with an issue of our own
that challenges us to uphold the standards of integrity and accountability that are central to our
mission.

The values and mission of the Utah Athletics Department are built around serving our student–athletes and caring for their health, safety and well-being. It is our responsibility to provide them with an inclusive environment in which every member of our Department—students, coaches and
staff—feels respected and valued. That means allegations of discrimination based on race, ethnicity
religion, gender, sexual identity or national origin will not go unchecked. Our integrity and our
character are defined by the way we serve the needs of our students and staff and by our actions
when our commitments to equity and inclusion are challenged.

On Wednesday, June 3, 2020, we were notified of a social media post that suggested a current
member of our football coaching staff, Morgan Scalley, had sent a text message with racist language
in 2013. We immediately initiated conversations with our campus partners to establish a path to
swift and fair examination of the allegation. That evening, we spoke with Coach Scalley, who
confirmed that he sent a text message that contained a derogatory word.

By Friday, June 5, 2020, we informed Coach Scalley of his immediate suspension and he issued a
public apology. We also announced that the University would seek an outside firm to investigate the
matter. By Sunday, June 7, the University had retained the Kansas City law firm of Husch Blackwel
to immediately begin a review of the matter.

Husch Blackwell began its review on Monday, June 8, and conducted 35 interviews with current
and former student-athletes, coaches and staff members associated with the Utah Football program,
including 23 past or present student-athletes. The findings from those interviews were compiled in
an investigative report provided to the University, which is attached with this letter.
In addition to the information provided in the report, we have engaged in multiple conversations
with student-athletes in the football program to listen and to understand their perspectives as we
have worked through this process. That included an in-depth conversation with the 13-member
Leadership Council, a diverse group of student-athletes from the team’s various classes, as well as a
meeting with the entire team in which we presented the serious and significant findings of the
report. These conversations were insightful and candid, which provided an even deeper level of
understanding of the range of emotions our student-athletes are feeling. They communicated to us
their concerns and expectations, as well as their strong support for Coach Scalley to remain on the
staff.

We have thoroughly evaluated all of the information available to us to determine the most
appropriate conclusion and path forward. The racist language used by Coach Scalley is inexcusable
and harmful to all, particularly to those communities identified in the report. We believe, and
expect, that he will learn and lead, while owning his past conduct, to rebuild trust, reconcile harm
caused and make a positive impact on the lives of student-athletes.

Therefore, we have determined that Coach Scalley will remain in his position on the football staff,
but the seriousness of his actions warrants the following:

1) Coach Scalley will engage with leadership of the University’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
team, including Vice President Mary Ann Villarreal. He will participate in regular and ongoing diversity and inclusion education, and will be expected to be a key partner in
addressing issues of racism and bias in the Utah Athletics Department, the University an
the broader community.

2) In December 2019, the University and Coach Scalley verbally agreed to a multi-year
extension of his contract, increasing his annual compensation to $1.1 million. Instead, his
new contract will revert to his 2018 compensation level in the form of a one-year term for
$525,000.

3) In December 2019, Director of Athletics Mark Harlan extended a verbal offer to Coach
Scalley to become the Head Coach In-Waiting, which Harlan has now rescinded.
In our continuing efforts to work closely with our student-athletes to address issues of systemic
inequity and racism in society, $100,000 previously directed to Coach Scalley’s compensation will
be redirected to enhance programming and staffing support to the Athletics Department’s U.T.A.H.
Group (United Together Against Hate), a student-athlete forum launched in early 2019.

We recognize the magnitude of this decision and the incredibly complex nature of these issues. We
are grateful to all who participated in the review and who provided thoughtful and important
information to evaluate. We also thank you for your patience during this process.”

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