Creighton suspends coach Greg McDermott over ‘plantation’ remarks

March 5, 2021

Creighton University men’s basketball coach Greg McDermott was suspended Thursday after he urged his players to “stay on the plantation” during a locker-room speech following a loss Saturday. 

His suspension by the Nebraska-based Big East school was announced just two days after officials said any disciplinary action against McDermott would remain confidential.

“After our Creighton men’s basketball team returned to Omaha earlier today, Fr. Hendrickson and I engaged with other senior leaders in dialogue and discussion regarding appropriate sanctions for the remarks made by Head Men’s Basketball Coach Greg McDermott that were not in alignment with Creighton’s commitment to racial equity, diversity and respect,” Creighton athletic director Bruce Rasmussen said in a statement. “Coach McDermott and the team have accepted that, effective immediately, he is suspended from all team activities, including Saturday’s home season finale against Butler.”

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McDermott, 56, who was in his 11th season with the Creighton Bluejays, indicated on Twitter on Thursday night that he’s accepted the decision.

“I made a mistake and I own it. Mistakes come with consequences, and I accept and agree with the suspension,” the coach wrote. 

McDermott, who is White, acknowledged saying to his players after a 77-69 loss to Xavier on Saturday: “Guys, we got to stick together. We need both feet in. I need everybody to stay on the plantation. I can’t have anybody leave the plantation.”

Creighton has a racially diverse roster that includes several Black players.

On Tuesday, McDermott apologized on Twitter, writing that he used a “terribly inappropriate analogy in making a point about staying together as a team despite the loss.”

“I have never used that analogy and it is not indicative of who I am as a person or as a coach,” McDermott said in his post. “I am deeply sorry. I have apologized to our student-athletes and to our staff.”

Creighton coach Greg McDermott watches the team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Butler in Indianapolis on Jan. 16, 2021.  (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)

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McDermott coached Creighton from the sidelines during the team’s 72-60 loss against Villanova on Wednesday, the Omaha World-Herald reported. It was the team’s first game since his controversial remarks. 

Assistant coach Alan Huss has since been named the interim head coach, according to Rasmussen’s statement on Thursday. The school added that McDermott may face further disciplinary action.

“Coach McDermott and our athletics program must use this incident as an opportunity for growth and learning, as clearly more work needs to be done,” the statement added.

The Bluejays are set to begin postseason play next week at the Big East tournament.

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Before taking the Creighton gig, McDermott served as head coach at Iowa State, Northern Iowa and North Dakota State. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report