Colorado State’s athletic department announced on Friday that they were suspending football activities in response to accusations of racism and verbal abuse within the program. On Saturday, Rams wide receiver Thomas Pannunzio published a statement from players on Twitter to defend head coach Steve Addazio and the current coaching staff against the allegations.
Pannunzio calls the allegations “patently untrue” and says they come from a “disgruntled former coach.”
Here is his statement:
“The last number of days has created an unfair and unstable environment within our football team. As our team addresses these challenges, the seniors, with the support of the entire team, have chosen to frame the allegations with the following facts and personal experiences.
“First, the allegation of racism and verbal abuse by the current football staff and specifically Coach Addazio is patently untrue. To the contrary, our experience since Coach Addazio’s first day has been positive, welcoming and focused on our development as student athletes. To be absolutely clear, we have not experienced any racially insensitive comments to our teammates from the athletic department or coaching staff.
“Second, this football team has matured and positively developed since Coach Addazio’s arrival. The seniors and our football team unequivocally support our Coach and his staff. They have acted professionally, respectfully and are committed to fostering an inclusive and supportive football program. We have embraced new and exciting programs that Coach Addazio has implemented which have already proven to be beneficial and educational to our football team.
“Third, it is clear to us the false allegations have been leveled by individuals who are not associated with our current football team. The unfounded allegations from a disgruntled former coach and/or unnamed source is unfair, unjust, and creates the exact demeaning and painful wounds that can be caused by racism. Again, we do not practice, sweat, work or study in a harmful culture.
“Finally, we know the truth. Ask us, not unnamed sources and former coaches who have an ax to grind. Through our shared goals, our commitment to Coach Addazio and his staff, our energy and focused purposed, this team is confident we will and can achieve to a great degree with Coach Addazio and his staff.”
Addazio is in his first season as Colorado State’s head coach. As Pannunzio’s statement references, Football Scoop reports that the allegations have to do with not just the current program, but also what happened under former coach Mike Bobo.
The allegations were troubling enough for the athletic department to suspend activities, but the statement from Pannunzio shows there are multiple sides to a story.