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DeBerry gets a reprimand but keeps job
Published October 27, 2005
DENVER - Air Force football coach Fisher DeBerry met the academy's new superintendent for the first time Wednesday, and was reprimanded, but not fired, for statements he made about black athletes and recruiting.
The 67-year-old coach, known for his folksy, disarming charm and his homespun sayings, found himself in an imbroglio over political correctness for the second time in less than 12 months.
Last time, it was about religion in the locker room. This time, it was about the lack of black football players at the academy.
After his meeting with Lt. Gen. John Regni, DeBerry apologized.
"I realize the things I said might have been hurtful to many people and I want everyone to understand that I never intended to offend anyone," DeBerry said.
On Tuesday, in discussing a loss to TCU, DeBerry said it was clear TCU "had a lot more Afro-American players than we did and they ran a lot faster than we did."
DeBerry first discussed the topic Monday, saying the academy needed to recruit faster players and noting, "you don't see many minority athletes in our program."
Athletic director Hans Mueh said the academy "has a zero-tolerance policy for any racial or ethnic discrimination or discrimination of any kind."
Nonetheless, Mueh said the coach would not lose his job.
"It was a seriously, seriously inappropriate comment," Mueh said. "This was a great first step. This was not Fisher DeBerry, not the man I've known for 25 years. I'd like for us to all just move on from there."
Air Force made two seniors, one white and one black, available for comment.
"We, as a team, didn't think he meant anything by it," said receiver Jason Brown, who is black. "He's not that kind of person."
Center John Wilson, who is white, said "there are 250 guys on the team and there is not one player that was offended," by DeBerry's statements.
ALABAMA: Receiver Tyrone Prothro was discharged from a hospital where he spent 26 days recovering from a broken leg.
NEW MEXICO STATE: The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico has filed a grievance against coach Hal Mumme, saying he discriminated against a now-released Muslim player by repeatedly questioning him about al-Qaida. The grievance, filed Tuesday on behalf of former Aggies running back Muammar Ali, also said the football staff required the team to recite the Lord's Prayer after each practice.