Six days after new Mississippi State football coach Mike Leach tweeted a meme containing an image of a noose, the school's athletic director criticized Leach on Tuesday.
In his first public comments since Leach put out the tweet, AD John Cohen laid out a plan that would allow the coach to "expand his cultural awareness of Mississippi."
Multiple members of the Bulldogs team posted negative responses to Leach's tweet, which showed a woman knitting a noose, accompanied by the caption, "After 2 weeks of quarantine with her husband, Gertrude decided to knit him a scarf"
On Thursday, Leach deleted the tweet and wrote, "I sincerely regret if my choice of images in my tweets were found offensive. I had no intention of offending anyone."
Cohen said in a statement on Tuesday, "No matter the context, for many Americans the image of a noose is never appropriate and that's particularly true in the South and in Mississippi. Mississippi State University was disappointed in the use of such an image in a tweet by Coach Mike Leach.
"The university is confident that Coach Leach is moving quickly and sincerely past this unintended misstep and will provide the leadership for our student-athletes and excitement for our football program that our fans deserve and that our students and alumni will be proud to support."
Cohen instructed Leach to tour the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, both in Jackson, after restrictions brought about by the coronavirus pandemic are lifted. The coach also was ordered to have "listening sessions" with students, alumni and community groups.
Mississippi State defensive lineman Fabien Lovett entered the transfer portal on Saturday, with his father telling the (Jackson, Miss.) Clarion-Ledger that the reason was Leach's tweet. Offensive lineman Brevyn Jones announced Monday that he is transferring from the school, though his reasons were unknown.
According to the NAACP's History of Lynchings website, between 1882 and 1968, Mississippi had 581 lynchings, the highest total of any state. Of the total of 4,743 lynchings in the United States, 72.7 percent of the victims were black people, and 79 percent of the incidents occurred in the South.
--Field Level Media