Local college coaches, teams make statements in response to recent social injustice

Bronco Mendenhall, Tony Bennett and the Virginia Tech football program all released statements over the weekend.

ROANOKE, Va. – The death of George Floyd has certainly shaken our country at its core -- another unfortunate example of social injustice which has in turn, sparked the need for parents, mentors and even coaches to have that difficult conversation that centers around the question: Why?

Many college athletes have been pondering the same thing while also speaking out, which is why the Virginia Tech football program recently held a team meeting via Zoom.

The program released a statement via Twitter mentioning that the team met to "...discuss the pain that hate, racism and violence continue to cause in our nation, and specifically, the heartbreaking images of George Floyd taking his final breaths before his senseless death. "

The program reiterated that they remain committed to being part of a solution to the problem, striving to “work and live together in harmony.”

Coaches from the University of Virginia also released statements over the weekend. Head football coach Bronco Mendenhall said he was “horrified and deeply saddened by the footage of the last moments in the life of George Floyd.” Mendenhall also expressed his gratitude and appreciation for being able to help lead young men from various backgrounds-- all together “In a shared pursuit of excellence on the field, in the classroom and in life after college.”

Virginia head basketball coach Tony Bennett expressed raw emotion in a statement released on the Virginia Men’s Basketball’s Twitter page.

“Words cannot adequately capture the pain and sadness we are witnessing due to all of the social injustice that so many people of color have faced for so long. My mind and heart are telling me that as a white man, talk is cheap. My Lord teaches faith without works is dead and loving one another with kindness and compassion filled with good deeds is the right way,” said Bennett.

Virginia Cavaliers head coach Tony Bennett celebrates as his team clinched a spot in the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament in 2019 (WSLS)

“So, I will choose the right way first and foremost. I am thankful for the gift of coaching so many young black men that have shown strength, kindness and goodness to ALL people in so many wonderful ways in the face of opposition. That is the right way. When we put our hands in and say “FAMILY” it transcends way beyond basketball. We are united in all things. Unified diversity is powerful and right, and the prayer of my heart for these times,” Bennett said.

On Saturday, former UVA Cavalier and current Indiana Pacers guard, Malcolm Brogdon, teamed up with fellow NBA star Jaylen Brown to lead peaceful protests in Atlanta.

About the Author:

Eric is no stranger to the Roanoke Valley. He is a Roanoke native and proud graduate of William Fleming High School.