A University of Colorado football player has been suspended and his girlfriend, a cross-country-track runner, has quit the sports program after being accused of sending a racist e-mail to a Hispanic cross-country runner, the school announced.
The e-mail included a reference to dragging the man behind a car, recalling an incident in 1998 in Texas when a Black man was dragged to his death. The two athletes were cited for harassment and ethnic intimidation.
A news release from athletic department director Mike Bohn this weekend made no mention of the e-mail.
It said Clint O’Neal, a 6-foot-6, 305-pound starter and senior offensive tackle from Weatherford, Texas, was suspended for violation of team and athletic department rules. Bohn did not say how long the suspension would last. Colorado plays Clemson in the Champ Bowl on Dec. 27.
He said Jackie Zeigle, a junior from South Jordan, Utah, had told the university she was quitting the cross country and track programs for personal reasons.
Bohn said privacy rules prevented the disclosure of any other information in the case other than to say the decision on O’Neal was made after several meetings over the past few days.
O’Neal is not listed in the telephone directory, and someone who answered a number listed for Zeigle picked up the phone and hung up.
The suspension announcement comes three days after football coach Gary Barnett was ousted. In addition to losing his last two games by a total score of 100-6, the program had endured a sordid recruiting scandal in which sex was allegedly used to entice athletes to come to the school.
Meanwhile, a police report said O’Neal and Zeigle, who are both White, sent the typo-filled message to Greg Castro. It called Castro a “river rat” and “border hopper” and “bean eating peace of (expletive).” The message suggested O’Neal would drag Castro behind his car.
There have been several racially tinged incidents in Boulder over the past year. The message was sent from O’Neal’s account on an Internet portal for college students that requires a university e-mail address.
A Black student government leader received an e-mail last month that threatened her life, prompting a campus police investigation and student rallies.
In February, those attending the Big 12 Conference on Black Student Affairs reported racist remarks, staring and poor service at an area restaurant. A student of mixed race heritage was assaulted during the spring semester as he walked near campus, breaking his jaw.
Police said O’Neal told them he was upset after his team lost the Big 12 Championship game 70-3 to Texas. He told Zeigle to use his account and write the message. Zeigle told police she was retaliating against her teammate because he is obsessed with her and harasses her.
Police said Castro told them he felt threatened by the message and slept at a friend’s house. He told the Daily Camera he doesn’t harass Zeigle.
Both Zeigle and O’Neal are scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 19.
— Associated Press
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