Earlier this week we ran an item about new Ohio State football strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti's use of a colored shirt as a badge of shame for players who loafed. Marotti, in a press conference with reporters, twice used the word "lavender" to describe them, as did at least one player.
This caused me and others to question whether the shirt color was chosen specifically for its connotation to gays. Nope, says Marotti, who issued this statement today through the school's athletic department:
Over the past few days, some people have raised questions and concerns about my use of purple mesh pullovers. I want to be very clear about this: The color of the pullover, which has now been changed, was in no way intended to condemn anyone because of sexual orientation. To do so would be wholly inconsistent with the core values of respect and honor, two principles that are central to my personal life, my coaching philosophy, and Ohio State and its athletics program. We are about excellence, and bias has absolutely no role to play in achieving that excellence.
An athletic department spokesman told me he did not know what color the new "loafing" shirt would be, nor was he aware of how officials became aware of the controversy. He also told our friend Pete Olsen at Wide Rights:
"The pullovers that the coach mistakenly referred to as 'lavender' are actually purple. Very purple. The coach sincerely but mistakenly thought the color was lavender when he mentioned the pullovers during an interview."
Regardless of color semantics, this is a strong statement by Marotti and should put the issue to rest.