Ohio State issued a new response to allegations made by Michigan State forward Jagger Joshua on Monday that a Buckeyes men’s hockey player directed a racial slur at him “multiple times” during a Nov. 11 game in East Lansing, Michigan.
Gene Smith, Ohio Stayr athletic director, released a statement late Tuesday that was more conciliatory, apologetic and forceful than the one the university released late Monday within hours of Joshua’s statement on Twitter.
Smith’s statement acknowledges that Buckeyes senior Kamil Sadlocha, the only player assessed a game misconduct in the Spartans’ 4-3 victory at Munn Ice Arena, is the player accused of using the slur.
“I want to offer my sincere and heartfelt apology to Jagger Joshua,” Smith’s statement begins. “On behalf of Ohio State University, I am so sorry. No student or student-athlete should experience hatred or racism and everyone should feel welcome.”
Smith said he’d spoken with Michigan State athletic director Alan Haller and is “thankful Jagger is getting the support he needs.”
Smith also said the athletic department “worked through this on-ice incident” the past week and spoke with Sadlocha, a 23-year-old redshirt senior from the Chicago suburb of Carpentersville, Illinois. Smith said Sadlocha has returned home and will not practice or compete “at this time.”
Sadlocha did compete for Ohio State this past weekend in two games against Notre Dame, and Smith’s statement leaves open the possibility he might rejoin the team at some point. Sadlocha’s removal, even if temporary, is more discipline than what Ohio State and the Big Ten initially planned.
Each issued statements Monday indicating they were satisfied with the results of the conference’s investigation, with the league saying it had worked with each university and the officiating crew that worked the game.
Ohio State’s initial statement didn’t mention Joshua by name, apologize or include any kind of description of what the MSU forward detailed in his account of what happened.
“The Ohio State Department of Athletics and the men’s hockey program worked collaboratively with the Big Ten Conference to come to a resolution in response to the allegation of misconduct toward the Big Ten sportsmanship policy,” the statement said. “Ohio State is focused on providing an inclusive and supportive environment for all.”
The Big Ten’s statement was similar, not mentioning the terms “racial slur,” or “ethnic slur,” and stating its investigation didn’t turn up enough evidence for disciplinary action beyond the game misconduct, which Joshua said an official assessed after hearing Sadlocha’s use of the slur.
“The conference supports the decision by the official to levy a game misconduct penalty on OSU,” the Big Ten said Monday. “Due to the absence of indisputable evidence presented to the conference, the conference has not imposed further disciplinary action.”
Ohio State and the Big Ten took a virtual pounding on social media Tuesday, as media figures and former NHL players lambasted the lack of additional action. That included recently retired defenseman P.K. Subban and former NHL forward Anson Carter, now a TNT studio analyst who played at Michigan State and for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Carter said he was also called a racial slur by a University of Michigan player during his collegiate career and blasted both OSU and the Big Ten for not doing more about the incident with Joshua.
“If this is how (they) handle these situations, I don’t know why any young player would want to play at that school or in that conference!” Carter said.
Carter’s tweet was posted mid-afternoon Tuesday. A little more than eight hours later, Smith’s statement was released via social media and email.
“I have met with the men’s hockey team and will be meeting with them again soon to discuss our values,” Smith said in conclusion. “The team will complete education on racial sensitivity, diversity, equity, inclusion and the use of respectful dialog. The department and I will support them through this important process.”