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Seattle University men’s basketball coach Jim Hayford resigned on Thursday afternoon after he allegedly used the N-word multiple times in front of his team, the school announced.
Hayford had been on administrative leave since Nov. 5.
“It is clear to me that Coach Hayford is no longer able to effectively lead the team,” Seattle athletic director Shaney Fink said in a statement. “The top priority within the athletic department is, and always will be, to support the well-being and success of our student-athletes — in and out of the classroom and in their chosen sport. We are committed to advancing an athletic community that is inclusively excellent.
“We will take additional steps to ensure any concerns within the program are addressed and that all our student-athletes are seen, heard, and supported. As part of our commitment, Seattle University has initiated a review of the climate within the program.”
Assistant coach Chris Victor will take over as the Redhawks’ interim coach. He led them to a 69-66 win over Alcorn State on Wednesday night to officially kick off the 2021-22 season.
Hayford, according to Stadium’s Jeff Goodman, used the racial slur during a team scrimmage earlier this month after a player in the game used it first. Hayford, who is white, “then repeated the word in an effort to curtail its use.” It was the second time in recent months he had allegedly used the word.
Though Hayford apologized to his players the next day, most of them refused to play for him anymore, per Goodman.
“Most of the players don’t like him, so this was almost the final straw,” a source told Goodman. “He's very emotional, flammable. It can be a hostile environment.”
Hayford was set to start his fifth season in Seattle. The 54-year-old had compiled a 64-55 overall record since he was hired by the school before the 2017 season following a successful stint at Eastern Washington.
“The events of the past few weeks have been humiliating and is not indicative of what we stand for as a team,” Redhawks guard Aaron Nettles said in a statement attributed to the team on Twitter. “Hearing offensive and racially insensitive remarks from our leader has been both disheartening and emotional.
“We are thankful for the way in which our athletic department handled the situation, allowing us to refocus our collective effort on the season and each game in front of us. We stand together as we move forward.”