The Ohio State University has apologized to a visiting athlete who said he experienced racism while playing a hockey game against the Buckeyes.
An initial investigation by the Big Ten, the athletic conference of which the two schools belong, didn’t find any “indisputable evidence” that Michigan State Spartans player Jagger Joshua, who is Black, was subjected to derogatory slurs that would warrant any action, according to ESPN.
But OSU backtracked on that claim and set the record straight.
“I want to offer my sincere and heartfelt apology to Jagger Joshua. On behalf of Ohio State, I am so sorry,” OSU’s athletic director, Gene Smith, said in a statement posted on Twitter Tuesday night. “No student or student-athlete should experience hatred or racism, and everyone should feel welcome.”
Smith confirmed that he spoke with Michigan State’s athletic director to ensure Joshua received proper support. He said Kamil Sadlocha, the OSU player who allegedly hurled the slurs, has been suspended.
“I have met with the men’s hockey team and will be meeting with them again soon to discuss our values,” Smith said. “The team will complete education on racial sensitivity, diversity, equity, inclusion and the use of respectful dialog. The department and I will support them through this important process.”
On Monday, Joshua tweeted about his Nov. 11 game against the Buckeyes.
“One of their players called me a racial slur multiple times,” he wrote. “One of the officials heard the slur and gave the player a game misconduct penalty. There was an investigation by the Big Ten in days after the incident, but no further public action has been taken by the Big Ten Conference or Ohio State.”
He explained that the lack of action made him question diversity efforts within hockey, and whether it was really a priority.
“The ignorance of racism does not belong in our game, and I feel that I need to make people aware that this incident occurred, because without acknowledgement, the problem gets worse,” Joshua said.
“Inaction in the face of racist comments and actions allow these behaviors to continue.”
Ohio State University athletic communications director Jerry Emig declined to provide further comment on the incident, instead referring The Daily Beast to Smith’s Twitter post. The Big Ten did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.