Appalachian State University indefinitely suspended freshman Spencer Brown from its men’s tennis team on Monday after finding he acted exhibited “derogatory and offensive” behavior during his match a day earlier against a player from N.C. A&T State.
The punishment occurred after A&T player John Wilson IV posted on Twitter that Brown made racial comments toward him during the match in Boone. Wilson is also the senior class president at N.C. A&T State University.
Update: Even though I have yet to be reached out personally from the administration of Appalachian State. The athletics program suspended Spencer indefinitely! Thank you all for the help, this is something I’ve always dealt with being a black tennis player. #NCAT pic.twitter.com/9MqHvTe6fR
— John Wilson IV (@jpheze) January 29, 2018
“Hey #NCAT this is Spencer brown, a tennis player at Appalachian state,” Wilson posted, along with a photo of Brown, on Sunday night. “During our match today, along with other racist comments, Spencer told me, ‘At least I know my dad.’
“Their coach responded by saying, ‘..we have a black guy on our team.’ ”
By 10:14 a.m. on Monday, App State issued a statement saying a tennis player had been suspended. The Journal confirmed it was Brown, who is from Spartanburg, S.C. Brown was a four-star recruit out of high school, ranking inside the top 100 of tennisrecruiting.net.
“After yesterday’s men’s tennis match, an Appalachian State student-athlete engaged in behavior that was derogatory and offensive,” the release said. “This student-athlete has been suspended indefinitely from the team, effective immediately, for violating the student-athlete discipline policy.”
Doug Gillin, App State’s athletics director, learned about the incident at around 10 p.m. on Sunday. Gillin said App State began investigating immediately the next morning. Gillin spent time trying to determine what happened, as well as what led up to the event.
Gillin realized quickly that App State needed to reprimand Brown for his actions. Gillin said he called N.C. A&T Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Earl Hinton III to apologize soon after.
“There was a lot of people there that we’re still trying to figure out who was there and who saw or heard what,” Gillin said. “But it didn’t take us long to know that this student-athlete of ours made this statement and therefore, we acted immediately.”
App State tennis coach Bob Lake has led the program since 2000. Lake has been the men’s head coach since 2000. Wilson’s tweet mentions a coach telling him that “. . . we have a black guy on our team.” It’s unclear whether that’s referencing Lake. But Gillin said that is one reason why the investigation would continue: to determining the roles of those around the situation. Gillin said he didn’t know how long it would take to round up the facts.
“I think that’s part of the investigation and full review,” Gillin said. “Before I say anything further on Coach Lake, I really want to do a full review of this whole situation and go from there.”
Brown is still currently enrolled at App State according to Megan Hayes, App State’s director of university communications. Hayes also said that Sheri Everts, App State’s chancellor, is aware of the situation and the school is “conducting a full review of the incident before any further action is taken.”
Hinton issued a statement Monday afternoon, thanking App State for the speed of its reaction.
“We appreciate Appalachian State University’s responsiveness in bringing this matter to closure,” Hinton said.
Brown won the match against Wilson, 6-1, 6-1 as App State went on to a 7-0 sweep of N.C. A&T. App State’s next match is on Friday, when it will host N.C. Central.