Narduzzi issues apology for past use of ‘thug’

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Sarah Cutshall | Senior Staff Photographer

In a written statement released on Tuesday afternoon, head football coach Pat Narduzzi publicly addressed his previous use of the word “thug.”

By Stephen Thompson, Sports Editor

Pitt’s head football coach Pat Narduzzi has recently come under intense scrutiny for his delayed response to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. But even after addressing the recurring issues of police brutality and racism that affect many on his predominantly black football team, former players say he still has more to atone for.

Former Panthers linebacker Elias Reynolds posted a tweet on June 1 accusing Narduzzi of using the word “thug” to describe both teams he disapproved of as well as players who broke dress code with hoodies or backwards hats.

Narduzzi publicly addressed the accusations, and the use of the word, for the first time in a written statement released on Tuesday afternoon.

“Simply put, it’s not allowed. Last season, I learned how that word, and what it suggests, has changed,” Narduzzi said. “Through our regular discussions in our weekly leadership council, our players shared those feelings on that word. Our program understands it will not be part of our vocabulary.”

Support for Narduzzi’s statement from current Panthers has been quiet. Tweets of it earned likes from defensive backs coach Archie Collins and junior defensive back Jason Pinnock, but no other current players have offered public commentary.

Narduzzi’s Twitter account has been much more active in the time since his first statement on June 2, with multiple posts featuring the #BlackLivesMatter and #Unity hashtags. One of his posts from last week emphasized his pleasure with how the team conversations have been conducted.

“Truly humbled by the respect our players and coaches have for each other and the open-mindedness they approached today’s discussion with,” Narduzzi wrote. “Our country has a bright future as these new leaders emerge every day.”

According to Narduzzi’s tweets from the past week, the conversations referenced in his statement have been held regularly since the beginning of the month and will likely continue as the summer progresses. The Panthers are only in the second day of their phased return due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Athletes are still in the mandatory quarantine period and will not begin group workouts until later in June.

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