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Questions of anti-gay bias surface after Ron Prince’s dismissal at Howard University

Despite Ron Prince’s resignation, questions linger about his interrogation of players: “I know someone in here is gay!”

Photo by Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The resignation of Howard University head football coach Ron Prince in his first season at the Washington, D.C. school last week was a symbolic end to what was a long, and hard-fought season. It started with a disastrous 79-0 loss to Maryland on the opening weekend, then came announcements by key players, including FCS All-American candidate quarterback Caylin Newton, that they would transfer next season, and climaxed with Prince being taken off the sidelines and placed on administrative leave in November.

The allegations of abuse against a player prompted the action, and eventually led to Prince’s resignation.

What sparked the investigation was a letter sent to the Howard administration and reported by HBCU Gameday in October. It paints a picture of Prince as a tyrant who engaged in actions ranging from verbal abuse and intimidation of players, to maltreatment of injured players on the team.

Howard Universirty Football
Caylin Newton (above), the brother of Carolina Panthers quarterback Cameron Newton, transferred from the Howard program during the 2019 season. It is speculated that Prince alleged abuse of players led to the decision to leave
Photo by Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post via Getty Images

There were also allegations hinting toward anti-gay bias. In the initial letter to the Howard administration:

Athletes are terrified of this man, he tells them they are garbage and to transfer.........Most of these young men are scared to report the abuse out of fear of retaliation. (calling them sorority sisters if someone tells the administration).

And there was this statement during a team meeting, which other sources corroborated through HBCU Gameday. It seemed to be a bizarre interrogation on who on the team was gay.

Asking if anyone was gay? And telling them it was ok he wouldn’t hold it against them “In fact I want to have the first openly gay player(s) in the country, I know someone in here is gay!”

Texas Tech v Kansas State
Similar concerns about Prince’s style also came to the surface in previous stints as a college and NFL coach, including his last head coaching position at Kansas State from 2006 to 2008.
Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

When asked about them in October, Prince made few comments in regard to allegations other than denying that such allegations existed. Yet, he had a reputation for being blunt, abrasive, and allegedly abusive throughout his coaching career.

Prior to coming to Howard, Prince had been an assistant with 3 major college programs, and worked with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions, where there were also some allegations of mistreatment of players by Prince reported.

Prince held one head coach position, leading Kansas State’s football program from 2006-2008, where former players cited allegations similar to those that plagued him at Howard. Reggie Walker, who played for Prince at KSU and later played 6 seasons in the NFL, dubbed Prince “a petty individual” on a KSU podcast last year, describing Prince as a coach and a person who took “all the bad experiences that he had being not a person of power, he took it out on everyone else.”