Pittsburg State athletics has responded to allegations that an assistant basketball coach directed a racial slur toward a counterpart from Central Missouri during a home basketball game last month.
The allegations, which surfaced on Twitter, involve assistant Men’s Basketball Coach Jon Gilliam, who allegedly called a UCM coach a racial slur during a home men’s basketball game on Jan. 12.
Update: (Feb 1, 2019)
Pitt State Athletics has confirmed that Gilliam is on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation.
The allegations became public when a Twitter user identifying himself as Mayor of Kansas City, MO (@RayThaJerk) tweeted three tweets on Jan. 29 alleging Gilliam used the slur, and that PSU was aware of the allegations, and questioning why no action was taken.
Further research into his social media accounts revealed that the Twitter account belongs to Terrell Ray. Ray’s Facebook page lists his aliases as RayThaJerk and Mayor of Kansas City, MO.
According to his social media accounts, Terrell Ray is an event host/DJ in Kansas City, MO. Ray also appears to be a community activist involved with combating violence and racism in Kansas City.
Sly James is the mayor of Kansas City, Mo.
In response to a request from the Collegio, Jeffrey Murphy, Assistant Director of Integrated Marketing and Communications for Media Relations for Central Missouri confirmed that officials at UCM were aware of the alleged incident and had reported it both to PSU athletics and to officials at the Mid-American Intercollegiate Athletics Association.
“…Members of UCM’s intercollegiate athletics staff have expressed their concern about this matter to their counterparts at Pittsburg State, asking that they address this issue with the individual who made the comment,” Murphy said. “UCM condemns all types of behavior, including racial slurs, that create a hostile, discriminatory environment.”
Ryley Egger, Director of Strategic Communications for the MIAA, confirmed that an investigation into the allegations is underway.
“Any time something like that happens, we are obviously very upset with the actions of our coaches, if that happens, because that should never happen,” Egger said. “That incident particularly we have been informed and we are looking into it at the moment, so we are going to work with both schools (and) gather as many facts as possible. So, we still in the process of gathering facts and things like that.”
It is unclear if the NCAA will be contacted or brought into the investigation with the MIAA, but Egger said it is a possibility.
“If we feel like we would need to do that then that is a potential route to go but again, we are still investigating it and trying to gather as many facts as possible, so we cross a bridge when we need to,” Egger said.
Dan Wilkes, Associate Athletic Director of Communications for Pitt State, issued a statement saying PSU is aware of the allegations and that an internal investigation is underway.
“Pittsburg State University condemns any behavior that creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work or educational environment,” the statement read.
The PSU Unclassified Handbook states:
“…Racial harassment is harmful not only to the person involved, but also to the entire University community. Racial harassment includes but is not limited to verbal, physical or written abuse directed toward an individual or group, which has the purpose or effect of the following: creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive group or educational environment for an individual or group; interfering with an individual’s or group’s work, academic performance, living environment, personal safety, or participation in any University-sponsored activities… Any such act shall be violation of Pittsburg State University’s racial harassment policy…”
There is no consequence listed for racial harassment.
According to Egger, MIAA Commissioner Mike Racy will determine what disciplinary action to take after the investigation is complete. Egger noted that, at this point in the investigation, it is hard to tell what will come of it.
“…That is kind of for (the Commissioner) to decide,” Egger said. “When you are still looking into the investigation, it is really hard to say what is going to happen because you don’t know all the facts yet…”
In game footage shot by CAPS-13 students and available on MIAA.tv, directly following the postgame handshakes, PSU assistant coach Jason Owens is seen having a conversation with UCM associate head coach Nate Johnson. Gilliam walks into the frame, approaches them and pulls Owens away from the conversation with Johnson. Gilliam then says something to Johnson as he starts to walk Owens back to the Gorilla Locker room.
While it is not possible from the video footage to know exactly what Gilliam said, several UCM players appear to stare at Gilliam as he leaves the floor. Johnson is seen putting his arm around one player as they walk off.
A clip of the exchange along with several tweets from Ray are available at psucollegio.com. Terrell Ray is friends with Johnson on Facebook, although Ray said he has many contacts on the Central coaching staff. Gilliam played two years at Central and graduated from UCM in 2014.
All roads lead to Moberly
Assistant coaches often cross paths on the recruiting trail, however it seems that Gilliam and Johnson’s relationship dates to their time at Moberly Area Community College. Gilliam’s LinkedIn account confirms that he attended MACC from 2010-2012 and he played on the basketball team and officials at MACC confirmed that Johnson was employed at MACC from 2009-2012 as an assistant coach.
PSU and MIAA spokesmen did not provide a timeline for their investigation, nor was there any indication if the results will be made public.