Former SFA basketball players dispute claims of racist comments from coach Danny Kaspar

Former Texas State player alleges racial remarks
Danny Kaspar during practice at SFA in 2013 (Source: KTRE Sports)
Danny Kaspar during practice at SFA in 2013 (Source: KTRE Sports)(KTRE Sports)
Updated: Jun. 5, 2020 at 12:02 PM CDT
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NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - Over one dozen former SFA basketball players have come out in support of Texas State Men’s Basketball Coach Danny Kaspar, who is being accused by a former Texas State basketball player of making racial comments.

The Texas State Athletic Department released a statement on Friday saying an official Title IX investigation had been launched.

“I am aware of the allegations of former Texas State University men’s basketball players regarding racially biased comments attributed to men’s basketball head coach Danny Kaspar,” TXST Athletic Director Larry Teis said. “I personally find these allegations deeply troubling.”

Full Statement from Texas State

Thursday night, Jaylen Sneed, a former Texas State player made the allegations on twitter which can be viewed below:

Kaspar was the head coach for the SFA Basketball program from 2000-2013. He brought home the school’s first NCAA National Tournament appearance in 2009. In 2018, Kaspar was inducted into the SFA Hall of Fame.

The allegations were not the way at least two SFA basketball players felt about Kaspar. Trey Pinkney and Dedrick Sanders, both minorities, did not believe Kaspar ever said anything while they played for him that could have been seen as racist.

“It was after midnight when I first found out about the tweet,” Sanders said. “I sat up on the edge of the bed for about 45 minutes. I was nervous to contact him. When I woke up that was the first thing on my mind - the coach I played under, the coach I have known for a little bit less than half of my life. I didn’t know how to approach him because this is a very sensitive subject with the times we are in now.”

Sanders said Kaspar was tough on the players but never once crossed a line that would be considered racist or out of bounds.

“He was a basketball coach from a different era and a certain coaching style,” Sanders said. He still has that coaching style at this point. Of course he is going to say a lot of different things but never once for the two years we played for him did we think there was anything racist. It was probably something that would only get a reaction right then and bring out a better basketball player. It was never personal or malicious."

Pinkney was on the last SFA team coached by Kaspar.

“There was nothing brought to my attention or that I had to take a step back and look at Kaspar in a different light,” Pinkney said.

As unrest has grown across the country following the death of George Floyd, Pinkney understands things are being viewed differently now.

“When I was playing there were a lot of things that were probably said that I would just let roll off my shoulders and not look at in a different way but with the times that we are in you have to be cautious with what you say,” Pinkney said. Especially when it comes to race issues or racial discussions. You just have to be cautious of how you put things and how things are said."

Late Friday night, The East Texas sports was contacted former SFA basketball player Cameron James. James confirmed that a google document with quotes in support of Kaspar from 13 African-American players from Kaspar’s years at SFA was put together by James.

The following is the contents copied in their original form from that document:

Cameron James (SFA Player from 2006-2009) “I played for Danny Kaspar at SFA from 2006-2009. I’m shocked and saddened by these allegations. Danny Kaspar is not a racist. I understand what was tweeted. That’s his experience, I’m here to tell mine. To insinuate that Danny Kaspar has a racist bone in his body is a grave misjudgment of character. He said things to everyone that he knew would push us and motivate us. He held us accountable and pushed us to be better daily. If you put a microphone in a D1 practice, you’re going to hear some words you don’t like. But none of these statements were ever racist. He told Scott Weaver, a white player repeatedly to cut his hair. No one was allowed to have long hair. He has an old school military mentality. Look professional and conduct yourself in a professional manner. Short hair, no facial hair, no tattoos, respect elders and women, say yes sir and no sir, tell the truth, look someone in the eye and shake their hand, and above all work hard and be grateful for what you have. These were rules to set us up to be respectable men in society, not to control us or to belittle us. These were rules for everyone, and everyone knew this before we signed up. These were life lessons that were supposed to carry us after college as we go through life. In fact, he would purchase a sports coat for his graduating seniors to wear in their first interview. He’s all about producing respectable young men.

I grew up going to Danny Kaspar Basketball Camp. Both of my parents graduated from SFA and we went back for each homecoming. I’ve known Danny for 20 years. He and my dad have talked regularly over the years as friends and as proud Lumberjacks. When I got to SFA as a student, I was not prepared for college life. I wasn’t prepared for adult life. I was immature, entitled and frankly, lost. Danny was hard on everyone because he cared. The kind of tough love a father has for a child. Danny instilled discipline and a drive in me to be better. I would not have graduated from college if it wasn’t for Danny Kaspar. He taught me to be a respectable adult, he taught me discipline and perseverance. He taught me to treat people with respect. He taught me that I have to work in order to achieve the things I want in life. And I’m so grateful for those lessons. He made me the man I am today.

Danny cared about all of us like the sons he never had. He saw the potential in all of us and wanted to bring it out. There are so many stories of how he helped kids become who they wanted to be, or who they never thought they could be. There are stories of him giving kids a chance that no one else did. In fact, he loves the underdogs. It is in his core to bring the best and brightest out of young people. And our success on the court shows that he knew what he was doing. We won a lot of games and we had a great time doing it.

I ran in to Debbie, Danny’s wife at the Dallas airport last year and we talked for a while. It is always good to see her because she was a mother figure to the players. The team spent Thanksgiving at the Kaspar house every year and she would cook for all of us. We talked about Nicole, their daughter, who had just gotten married. She was so proud. And I thanked her for everything, told her to say hi to Danny, and reminded her that they’ve made an impact on so many young men and families. We look up to Danny and Debbie. They’ve been married for years and years and are the model husband and wife and parents that we’d all aspire to be.

It would be a terrible mistake for Danny’s 40-year coaching career to be judged on a tweet. There are many, many kids that came before who owe Danny a tremendous amount and are willing to put their name on the line to support him when he needs us the most. Because he has always been there when we needed him. The life lessons will be with me until the day I die, and I’ll teach my kids the same values that I learned from Coach. I’ll always be grateful for and support Coach Kaspar, Debbie and Nicole.”

Eddie Williams (SFA Player from 2007-2011) “Coach Kaspar was my coach from 2007-2011. Not once did he ever make me feel like he was a racist. He made sure me, and other black student-athletes graduated and often went above and beyond to make sure we succeeded. I still speak with him at least once a month. He always calls and texts and checks on my well-being. When I’m in Austin, he and his wife always make sure to take me out to dinner. He is a tough coach to play for but through that exterior, he is one of the kindest human beings I’ve ever met. I owe a lot of my success in life to him. I pray for the best outcome in all of this.”

Gerald Fonzie (SFA Player from 2005-2008) “I normally don’t comment on these issues but as a former player of Danny Kasper, I find these allegations ridiculous. Kasper was indeed a tough coach but by all means, he was not a racist. He treated every player the same. He pushed up to be the best we could be. The thing I admire the most about him was he made sure all his player graduated college. To this day coach calls and txt me every holiday and ask is there is ever anything I need he is only a phone call away. As a young player, we often don’t understand at the time but as we become older you appreciate coaches like him for pushing you to the limit. If he is to be accused of anything it should be the fact that he wanted what was best for all his players no matter the color.”

Benson Akpan (SFA Player from 2007-2009) “Coach Danny Kaspar is one of the most supportive people in my life. He was demanding and pushed us hard on and off the court. But it was only because he wanted us to be great. We understood his drive and motivation was to help us all become successful. He truly cares about us as players and men. Kaspar has been like a father to me since I’ve been in America. His actions and words have shown me nothing but love and support. I consider it a privilege to have played for Danny Kaspar.”

Will Johnson (SFA Player from 2006-2007) “Not once did I ever get the feeling of Coach Kaspar being racist. I don’t know what happened in their locker room, but I know Coach, I’ve had man to man conversations with him and it’s always been of respect, life and moving things forward. We’ve had talks about race and society at camp at night when the campers are off to bed. Even discussing about what needs to change in the world, so for there to be some since of racism off of him, I don’t see it. Was coach hard, jump your butt for certain mistakes? Yes. Is he racist? No.”

Eric Bell (SFA Player from 2007-2010) “Coach, Eric here. I’ve heard about the situation. I’ve read a few things as well. And I want you to know that I’m standing by you. Not a lot of things bother me, but this is ridiculous. Were you tough? For sure. Hard? Yes. But always fair. To everyone. No matter what background they came from. Nor how many minutes they played. Everyone was treated the same. I’d like to think that I’m one of your favorites that you’ve ever coached & you got onto me just as hard as the next player. It’s unfair for you to be painted as something you’re not. You gave us tough love. And fought just as hard for us as we fought for you, and that has extended to life after basketball. You helped us prepare for live itself. Taught us how to be mentally strong and persevere. Every time I’ve needed you, you have been there. And I can’t thank you enough for that. I appreciate everything Coach.”

Chaz Dykes (SFA Player from 2005-2007) “During my time with Coach Kaspar, I have never experienced any racist acts with him, this is a man who helped me when I was down and almost out. I don’t know too many coaches that would care for their players after they are done playing for them, but to make a long story short, during that hard time in my life this man-made sure I finished school when I was definitely thinking about giving up on it and I don’t know if someone who was racist would make sure you’re successful in any kind of way shape or form.”

Walt Harris (SFA Player from 2008-2010) “My basketball experience with Coach Kaspar was a good learning experience. He taught his players to be mentally tough to prepare for us for the world outside of basketball. Although it was tough love being, he pushed me to levels that I had to dig deep within to become a better player for the team, which would prepare me to be a man. He’s always been supportive off the court as well, with me and my family. Overall, my experience with Coach Kaspar was well spent & very successful.”

Dedrick Sanders (SFA Player from 2002-2004) “As a former player for Coach Danny Kaspar at SFASU, I didn’t see Coach as a racist AT ALL. He was very straightforward, abrasive at times, but racist was never a thought in my mind for the 2 years I played for him.”

Hal Bateman (SFA Player from 2011-2013) “I played for Coach Kaspar for 2 seasons at Stephen F. Austin. I can say that every single day, it was a challenge. He challenged me ON and OFF the court. He pushed me to my limits, just to prove to me I was so much stronger mentally than I ever knew, but it’s something he knew. That’s what Coach Kaspar does. He gets more out of you than you yourself knew was there. I’ve played for a lot of coaches, but Coach Kaspar is by far at the top of that list. Since graduating, I’ve called on Coach for a number of things and he’s been more than a helping hand. He’s taken time from a vacation with his family to get me letters of recommendation on same-day notice because that’s how much he cares. Still to this day he calls on the regular to check in on me and my family, just to make sure things are going well and I’m doing well. Even if I could, there’s nothing I’d change about playing for Coach Kaspar. Playing for him and having him in my life has changed my life for the better, in ways I could’ve never thought.”

Joe Bright (SFA 2011-2013) “Idk if you [have] seen the news of one of your former players speaking about you. But I won’t stand by and let them try and tear you down Coach! I was one of the hardest you coach, and I never took nothing you did wrong! I told you the last time we talk thank you for helping me become a man! Because everything you taught me is helping me today! So, coach stay strong and if you need me call me!! Love you and the family!! You my coach I wrote that message this morning to coach giving him my support! I definitely understand the players because coach could be tough, but he was that way with all the guys! I had a moment when I wanted to leave SFA due to knee injuries over and over and ask coach could I leave to go back to Minnesota. And he said no! And at that moment I felt like every player mad, disappointed, felt like he was holding me back from my future! But Kasper sat down in his office and said Joe what about Claudia? Which is my mom who is sick! He said , she told me she wanted you to get a degree, matter fact be the first in the family and that what I’m going to make sure happen son! If you leave all the hard work, you did for your mom would have been wasted transferring to a school in Minnesota! And to this day I talk to Kasper and thank him for that and many more moments! Because at the time you really never understand but being older in the real world, he taught me a lot! I’m a teacher and basketball trainer who instill a lot of things Kasper taught me to this day! Again, I understand the players side, but I wouldn’t change a thing in my life Experience with my coach!”

Josh Alexander (SFA Player from 2005-2009) “I’ve known coach Kaspar for literally half of my life and these allegations are absolutely absurd. Coach Kaspar does not have one racist bone in his body. We’re talking about a man who treats everyone equally regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, etc. Is he tough and demanding, most certainly. That’s a characteristic in every successful coach. He’s a coach maximizes his players ability on and off the court. I played for Coach Kaspar from 2005-2009. Since then he’s always reached out to me for every holiday wishing me Merry Christmas, Happy Thanksgiving, Etc. He’s always reaching to me checking on my family to make sure everyone’s doing ok. We’re talking about a guy who genuinely cares about his players and their families regardless of the color of their skin. I’m absolutely applaud by these allegations and no way are they a reflection of my coach. #ISTANDWITHKASPAR”

Tim Simon (SFA Player from 2001-2005) “I know Coach has a heart of Gold. He has a genuine connection to his players. I have the upmost respect for him and teaching methods. Especially now that I’m older. All positivity was experienced during my time as a lumberjack.”

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