UL coach apologizes after Trump-song video, regrets some remarks

Tim Buckley, tbuckley2@theadvertiser.com

University of Louisiana at Lafayette football coach Mark Hudspeth apologized Friday afternoon to alumni, fans and program supporters for the actions of four Ragin' Cajun players shown in a cell-phone video dancing in the team’s locker room and singing the lyrics of a profane rap song.

The song by YG and Nipsey Hussle is called FDT (F--- Donald Trump). 

The video was made sometime shortly before final results were in from Tuesday’s election in which Trump was elected president. 

As the university's response continued to evolve Friday, athletic director Scott Farmer sent a letter to season-ticket holders and program boosters that read:

"Recently, a video showing a small group of student-athletes acting inappropriately was recorded and shared on social media.  This video in no way represents the views and values of the Ragin’ Cajuns Football program, the Athletics Department or the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.  

"Like many of you, we are disappointed in the actions of these student-athletes.  Coach Hudspeth recognized the severity of the situation and does not condone their behavior.  He acted swiftly to discipline those involved and continues to educate the team on how their actions are a reflection of the name on the front of their jerseys."

Some of the unidentified Cajun players in the video also are seen making obscene gestures.

“I am obviously disappointed in a few of our players’ immature behaviors that they demonstrated in the locker room,” Hudspeth said shortly after UL’s 33-26 win at Georgia Southern on Thursday night.

“We do not condone that type of behavior. It is not an example of our entire team. It does not represent our entire team.

“It has been handled,” he added, “and it will be a learning experience for these young men that were involved — although it was very few.”

UL coach Mark Hudspeth has apologized for the actions of four Ragin' Cajuns players seen in a profane Donald Trump-song locker room video.

Hudspeth has been the subject of intense criticism on social media and in story chats following his initial response to the video Thursday night. The criticism of the immature actions of 19-year-olds was hypocritical, Hudspeth said, because it came from people who voted for Donald Trump, who has "done much worse."

Many people called for a boycott of the team, and for the coach's firing. Among the posts:

  • He (Hudspeth) has lost control of the team."
  • "They (the players involved) all need to be kicked of the team immediately.”
  • “Not sure what is worse — the behavior of the team members or the pathetic response of the man who is supposed to be leading them.”

Some came to Hudspeth’s defense, saying that they loved “how he stood up for student athletes,” and that they “could not be more proud of the way Coach Hud has handled this.”

One UL booster and former athlete was not happy with the way the actions in the video represented the university.

“Those players in that video need to be reprimanded severely, and if there was any coach in the vicinity at the time, they need to be reprimanded, if not fired," said Keith Kishbaugh, whose construction company has been involved in renovations at the athletic complex.

"I’ve been around this university for 40 years. I’ve been a volunteer coach and put a lot of money into the university. That’s just not right. That’s not acceptable.”

Asked if he might pull his financial support from the university, he said:

“Me and hundreds of others, if this isn’t properly addressed. This needs to be addressed quickly. I can’t tell you how many calls and texts I’ve gotten from people who are very upset. I don’t want to spend a dime if that’s the way they’re going to represent our university.”

Kishbaugh's sentiments who echoed by some who posted on the University of Lafayette's football Facebook page:

“There will NOT be a check to RCAF this coming year," wrote Albert Davis. "Tired of lame excuses and poor performance.”

 “An already dwindling fan base just got thinner," wrote Marty DeRoussel. "What a shame for our University and community. While I agree that no one should attack these kids for poor judgement (we've all made stupid choices) I am appalled at Coach Hud's response where he puts partial blames on one political party's supporters. Just a terrible statement to convey.”

“Sorry Coach," wrote John Guillory:. "Your response was not deplorable enough. My household will no longer support UL Football.”

Hudspeth's full statement, as issued by UL Thursday:

"On Tuesday after practice, a video was recorded in our locker room and eventually shared on social media that shows individuals on our football team using obscene gestures and lewd language. I am disappointed by the actions that a few student-athletes demonstrated.

"The immature behavior of those individuals is not condoned by our program. It does not represent our entire team or the views of the University. We’ve disciplined four student-athletes and are taking steps to educate all of our student-athletes to prevent this from happening again.

"I apologize to our alumni, fans, supporters and the University, who deserve more responsible behavior by our student-athletes.

"I regret my response to a reporter’s question after last night’s game that may have offended some voters in the recent election."

Farmer initially had no comment when asked Thursday night about the video.

UL athletic director Scott Farmer issued a statement Friday regarding a controversial football locker room video.

The remainder of his statement, issued Friday afternoon, read:

"We value and take seriously our role as ambassadors for this great University. The immature actions of this relatively small group will not define us; nor will it overshadow the outstanding body of work of our nearly 400 student-athletes."

Hudspeth did not detail what the discipline was, and said that would remain "in-house."

READ MORE: 102-year-old on Trump victory: 'Believe in America'

But Hudspeth did indicate some if not all of the four played in Thursday night's game, and their playing time was not limited in any way. 

“The few men involved did not even vote in the presidential election,” Hudspeth said Thursday night. “So, they did not have a dog in the hunt.

“Obviously the hand gestures and the lewd language were very disappointing, especially toward one of the candidates.

“But I will say this,” he added Thursday. “It’s also disappointing that so many people have vilified a few 19-year-olds making some immature decisions, and then they were the same ones that voted for someone that has done much worse by grabbing a female in the private areas for the office of the (President of the) United States of America.”

PHOTOS: Anti-Trump protests around the U.S.

Hudspeth said he considered that “somewhat hypocritical.”

“And if they have never done anything that they were a little bit ashamed of when they were 19,” he said, “then they can get in line to throw the first stone against our team.”

Hudspeth said he stood by his team’s record of discipline since he arrived at UL prior to the 2011 season.

“I am confident that we probably have won the national championship of the most-disciplined team in the country,” he said.

“We have had very few if any off-the-field incidents within our program within the last 5-to-6 years, when many top programs around the country are littered in the paper weekly for arrests of marijuana, guns, violence toward women.

“And knowing that this is probably the worst thing that we’ve done, as disappointed as I am,” he added, “we will use it as a learning experience to educate our young men on how to represent themselves better in certain situations.”

RAGIN' CAJUNS: UL offense awakens at Georgia Southern

Hudspeth wanted to make it clear as to where his program stands regarding the office to which Trump has been elected.

“I can say this, though, with confidence: That our entire team is in full support of the Office of the President of the United States of America, regardless of who’s in office,” he said.

“We are 100 percent behind Mr. Trump, or President-Elect Trump, as we would be behind anyone.

“In football there is a chain of command, and we respect authority,” Hudspeth added. “And will respect that, and honor that office.”

READ MORE: Cameron Parish is Trump Town USA

The UL coach, when asked, called the culture of the Cajun locker room “very sound.”

“We have a lot of very high-character young men,” he said, naming a few including running back Elijah McGuire, center Eddie Gordon and linebacker Trey Granier.

“My son (reserve quarterback Gunner Hudspeth), along with many boosters’ relatives, are also a member of that football team.

“And they can tell you at any time that the character of this football team is upstanding, and these young men live by these core values that we have set for them daily,” Hudspeth added. “And I have been very proud of the way they have represented our community.”

Hudspeth cited as one example the team’s participation in relief efforts when widespread parts of South Louisiana, including much of Acadiana, were flooded last August.

It happened prior to the start of the 2016 season, when the now 4-5 team was still in preseason training camp.

“We skipped two practices that obviously we probably could have used to go drag out wet carpets and wet sheetrock (from homes in Youngsville),” he said.

“That is including those few young men, also, that’s being vilified. And my coaching staff, myself and our other players were there for this community.

“And it’s hurtful that for the first time we make a mistake, in our own locker room – not downtown, not out in public; in our confines of our locker room – that we are labeled as thugs, or being vilified as not men of character,” Hudspeth added, “That is disappointing, tremendously.”

The video, evidently shared publicly by one or more program boosters, did not start spreading via social media and other channels until two days later.

But Hudspeth said he was aware of it shortly after the video was filmed.

Hudspeth also said that afterward the four players involved “were very apologetic, very remorseful, and handled it the right way."

“They were caught up in a song, and used poor language, poor hand gestures," he said. "And, like I said before, it will be a learning experience. And does it by no means represent our entire team."

It's unclear who released the video.

“There’s a code, if you plays sports, that things you say in the locker room stay in the locker room when you leave the locker room, whether it’s a coaches’ postgame rant, a coaches’ speech, or two players that may have odds with one another after a real tough practice," Hudspeth said. "That’s just the way things are.

“We will do a better job, though, of monitoring the behavior of our young men, but also continuing to educate them and helping them develop into mature adults that one day will be great citizens of our communities."

Hudspeth asked why he did publicly disclose the video's existence, and the fact players were reprimanded, before it went viral.

“I don’t know if there’s ever a right time to address it," he said. "Obviously the sooner the better. It’s never fun to address anything like that.

"But I believe in our young men, and I stand by our young men, and even though we don’t condone that I support our young men. Because I see them every day. I know the character that they have, and I know what they do for this community, and I know what they’ve done, not just on the field but off the field.

"And if everybody that voted for Donald Trump can forgive him and put him in the Office of the President of the United States," Hudspeth added, "then I would think they can forgive a few 19-year-olds too."