LOGAN – The Utah State University Board of Trustees has called for an independent investigation into concerns raised by USU football players about comments of religious bias allegedly made by university president Noelle Cockett.
According to a USU statement released Saturday afternoon, the meeting referenced in the football players’ statement was held via Zoom on Tuesday, Dec. 8, at the request of current student-athletes but wasn’t recorded by the university.
“We take this matter seriously and understand that facts and details matter,” said Jody Burnett, chair of the Board of Trustees in a statement released by the university. “The players’ statement did not provide details about what was said. As a result, we will be working with an independent investigator to understand what was said during the meeting and the context for the alleged statements.
“Consistent with our university culture, USU is committed to listening to students, and we will handle this matter with integrity, fairness and open minds.”
The Trustees will provide further information as soon as possible.
Football players issued a statement Friday to national publication Stadium, saying they would not compete in Saturday’s football game at Colorado State because of perceived religious and cultural bias against interim head coach Frank Maile.
“During the meeting (with Cockett and Director of Athletics John Hartwell), we voiced our support for Interim Head Coach Frank Maile,” the player statement read. “In response to our comments, their primary concern was his religious and cultural background. Players, stating their diverse faiths and backgrounds, then jumped to Coach Frank Maile’s defense in treating everyone with love, equality, and fairness.”
Later Friday evening, Cockett released her own statement, saying, “I am devastated that my comments were interpreted as bias against anyone’s religious background.”