Oklahoma baseball coach Larry Cochell was removed from his position indefinitely Friday after school officials learned that he used racially derogatory language during two separate interviews with ESPN announcers.
OU athletic director Joe Castiglione issued a statement Friday night that Sunny Golloway will be the team’s interim head coach until the matter is resolved.
“This university is a place where everyone is respected,” Castiglione said in a statement. “Clearly, if these comments were made, they run contrary to the core values of this institution and we will treat them very seriously.”
Cochell (above) made the comments before Tuesday’s game at Wichita State, according to ESPN announcers Gary Thorne and Kyle Peterson.
Thorne said he was talking with Cochell before the game in the dugout. Cochell summoned Joseph Dunigan, a 19-year-old black athlete from Chicago, to the dugout and complimented the freshman outfielder on his schoolwork.
After Dunigan walked away, Thorne said Cochell made a racial slur. According to the network, which first reported the incident on its 5 p.m. edition of SportsCenter, Cochell said: “There’s no [racial epithet] in him.”
Cochell, who is white, was speaking with ESPN analyst Kyle Peterson sometime later before the game. The two began talking about Dunigan.
ESPN reported that Cochell said to Peterson: “There are honkies and white people. And there are [racial epithet] and black people. Dunigan is a good black kid.”
Josh Krulewitz, ESPN’s director of media relations, said both interviews were considered on-the-record because the announcers were gathering information to be used during the broadcast. However, Cochell was not on camera. OU labeled the encounters as “a private meeting.”
I’ve been watching a lot of Big 12 baseball this year and have noticed there aren’t a ton of black players. And in addition to all the things we’re always hearing about other sports being more popular pursuits for African-American athletes, perhaps the climate isn’t so welcoming if characters like Cochell feel comfortable making those sort of remarks.
No truth to the rumor, by the way, that Cochell has been offered a position with the Long Island Ducks.