University of Tennessee students protest amid the hire of their new football coach
By GARY KNOWLES
Greg Schiano, current defensive coordinator at Ohio State University, was slotted to become the new football coach at the University of Tennessee but was shut down over the weekend of Nov. 26 due to protests from the Tennessee Volunteers’ fans and students at the university, according to ESPN’s Chris Low.
The news about Schiano becoming the possible new coach broke on Sunday Nov. 26. The Schiano deal incited a public outcry from fans of the University of Tennessee team.
According to several sports media outlets a protest of about 100 people gathered on the university’s campus to oppose the hiring of Schiano.
A picture taken by WVLT-TV Local 8 News shows a rock where students paint messages on a regular basis that was painted with the phrase: “Schiano covered up child rape at Penn State.” The message appeared on the same Sunday as the announcement of the school’s consideration of Schiano for the coaching position.
Allegations have risen among the university’s students and fans of the school’s football team about Schiano’s connection to the Penn State athletics department during the years of Jerry Sandusky’s tenure as assistant coach. The protesters’ claim is that Schiano must have known about and covered up Sandusky’s sexual abuses.
According to ESPN’s article “Sources: Tennessee backs out of Greg Schiano hiring after campus protests”, in a 2015 disposition by former employee of Penn State, Mike McQueary, Schiano had denied any knowledge of Sandusky’s criminal actions during that period.
However, according to Slate reporter Ben Mathis-Lilley in 2016 new court documents were released that contained information, which stated Schiano and several others actually did know about Sandusky’s inappropriate behavior.
The campus protests sparked a controversy that spread through the internet, especially on Twitter, and ended up with Schiano no longer being considered as the new football coach.
Government officials and celebrities have also joined in on the students’ protest on social media. Typing “Greg Schiano” into the search bar on Twitter now brings up pages of jokes towards him and protests against the university’s decision to nominate him as the new coach. The school’s athletic director, John Currie, has also received significant social media backlash on Twitter feeds.
The movement seems to be in line with the recent trend for people to hold celebrities and public officials more accountable for their actions.
An article on the University of Tennessee website posted on Dec. 1, mentions changes to the current administration of the university’s athletic department by Chancellor Beverly Davenport.
Davenport placed the school’s current athletic director, John Currie, on paid leave. In his stead the chancellor has appointed Phillip Furmer to take up the search for a new coach.
The article also states that “The chancellor said she has taken these steps in the best interest of the university.”
Despite the change in leadership the protests and comments on Twitter and other social media channels continue to weigh in on the Schiano incident.