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USF men’s player says he faced ‘racial incidents’ this past season

Redshirt sophomore Madut Akec is among six Bulls players who have announced they’re transferring.
USF forward Madut Akec, left, and guard Mark Calleja watch from the bench during a game against Stetson at the Yuengling Center in December. Akec alleged in a statement Tuesday that he faced "racial incidents" this past season.
USF forward Madut Akec, left, and guard Mark Calleja watch from the bench during a game against Stetson at the Yuengling Center in December. Akec alleged in a statement Tuesday that he faced "racial incidents" this past season. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]
Published Mar. 24
Updated Mar. 24

Amid USF’s ongoing independent probe into what it deems “troubling concerns” involving one of its men’s basketball coaches, a Black player has come forward alleging mistreatment.

Redshirt sophomore backup Madut Akec, one of six USF players who has entered the NCAA transfer portal since the season ended, issued a lengthy statement Tuesday evening via Twitter alleging he faced some “racial incidents” this past season that caused him and his family “unexplainable stress.”

“Though I am not yet ready to talk about this issue publicly, I would like to make it known that I have always used basketball as an outlet to escape some of the hardships that I face as a Black male in this society,” wrote Akec, a 22-year-old native of South Sudan.

“But when these issues seem to follow, it becomes both uncomfortable and disturbing. Racism is something that I did not anticipate to deal with while playing basketball — a game in which I, and many peers alike me, revolve majority of our lives around.”

None of the other Bulls players who recently entered the portal have commented publicly, though fourth-year junior Alexis Yetna thanked the staff in a social media message announcing his departure. In a similar message, senior Justin Brown said, “I will always be a Bull for life.”

Since USF’s announcement of its investigation, the Tampa Bay Times has reached out to several former players who competed during current coach Brian Gregory’s four-year tenure. Two of the three who have responded to this point — Stephan Jiggetts and Isaiah Manderson — said they never experienced racism from Gregory’s staff. The other player, TJ Lang, declined comment.

“All those coaches are great coaches and I never heard any racial language from any of those coaches while I was there,” said Manderson, who was recruited by former coach Orlando Antigua but played for Gregory in the 2017-18 season.

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USF’s probe reportedly centers on 53-year-old assistant Tom Herrion, who arrived at the school with Gregory in 2017.

“We are aware of troubling concerns that have been reported involving a member of our men’s basketball coaching staff,” a recent statement released by the school said.

“We take these matters very seriously. An independent review is ongoing and the involved staff member has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of that review. We will have no further comment until that process is complete.”

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.